BY BRENNA MATENDERE
THE Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has renewed its lobby on other unions to form an umbrella body of the educators that can directly negotiate with government on working conditions instead of relying on the Apex Council.
The move will effectively see teachers breaking ranks with the Apex Council which currently represents all government workers.
PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou said the proposed grand coalition of the teachers’ unions will be known as The Federation of Zimbabwe Educators’ Unions (Fozeu).
“Fozeu will be premised on modern dual chambers, vis a vis a central chamber for discussing general issues on salaries and conditions of service for teachers. It will also be a sectoral chamber specifically dealing with dynamics and mechanics of the profession of teachers,” he said.
Zhou revealed that Fozeu would be following on the background of other unions that broke away from the Apex Council, which he said was too broad to know the specific issues affecting certain sectors within it.
“It (Fozeu) is also premised on the fact that other sectors that were part of the umbrella civil servants, like the health sector moved out of the Apex Council as a sector. They have successfully engaged the employer with the consequence being improved allowances,” Zhou said.
“The challenge of an umbrella of all civil servants engagement with government is that where a leader is not well conversant with pertinent issues affecting some sectors, such issues may remain unresolved forever. Worse still an umbrella engagement does not allow a discussion of sectoral issues.”
PTUZ said the mooted federation of teachers was the only way to go in advocating for better conditions for the educators.
“Fozeu would, therefore, specifically focus on teacher issues such as high teacher-pupil ratio and, therefore, call for a bloated class allowance. There are some teachers who teach two classes, for example, Grades 4 and 5 due to understaffing in the education system and, therefore, need a composite class allowance. Teachers also work overtime and need overtime allowance. All responsibility allowances need to be remunerated as in other sectors of civil servants,” he said.
“Teachers in particular have been treated in a degrading, discriminatory and servitude manner, denied the right to enjoy vacation leave when all other government workers go on leave.
“Whereas other civil servants like nurses, soldiers, police and the rest of civil service go on manpower development leave on full pay, teachers’ salaries are cut once they are on manpower leave. While student nurses receive full salary, and police and soldier trainees are on full pay, this is not the case with student teachers. All such hazardous meddling and muddling can be remedied with the operationalisation of Fozeu.”
The Apex Council has in the past come under fire from teachers who accused it of having a soft spot for government during negotiations.
This year, the teachers were at loggerheads with the umbrella body twice.
They first went on strike despite calls by the Apex Council to wait for the conclusion of the talks.
Last week, the teachers rejected a salary hike agreed between the employer and the Apex Council.