AMHVoices: Long winter looming in education sector

THE ruling elites and their allies in the business world have launched a brutal onslaught on the working class under what has become known as anti-people austerity measures.

Artuz Information Department

The freezing of salaries at a time when prices of basic goods and services have shot up to 400% since January have condemned the working class to extreme poverty.

Abductions, torture, detentions and harassment of the workers who speak out against exploitation has become a legacy of the so-called new dispensation.

These measures have rendered public service provision dysfunctional. In the education sector, a catastrophe is looming as teachers are incapacitated, with parents also unable to cater for fees and learning materials for their children.

A survey conducted by the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) has revealed that 60% of rural teachers are yet to secure bus fares to travel back to their work stations.

The teachers are failing to pay tuition fees for their children and can’t secure basic food supplies for their families. The teachers are not psyched for the learning calendar, which begins today.

The parents interviewed have indicated their inability to secure tuition fees and teaching material for their children.

Artuz notes with regret the insincerity of our government in addressing the challenges that confront the working class. Government has consistently celebrated an over $100 million budget surplus in the past four months, but is failing to invest that in production and public services. Government is blowing the revenue in executive luxuries, including chartering private planes.

Our union will continue to fight for labour justice and improved access to quality education in rural schools. The new dispensation is passionately fighting against the realisation of our vision. Labour injustice is on the rise and access to education in rural schools is being curtailed.

We registered our discontent with the Public Service Commission and Finance ministry on April 15 through a letter titled Salary Increment Reminder.

In the letter, we reminded government of the need to pay our salaries in United States dollars or market equivalent to cushion our members from the ever-rising cost of living. Government never responded to our reminder, as has become the norm.

We have been pushed to the corner and we have to fight back. We urge all teachers to go back to their stations, log in, but not to undertake any duties.

We are going to completely withdraw our labour within the first two weeks. We will only report for duty for two weeks per month. Consultations are underway to come up with a calendar of protests. We are glad that teachers are now more united than ever.

We call upon government to urgently review teachers’ salaries in order to safeguard our education sector from collapse.

We warn fellow unions in the education sector to desist from diluting the teachers’ struggle through posturing and sharing misleading information. We will expose all sell-outs.

To the Apex Council, we have run out of patience and we will not fold our hands while you mess up with the lives of the working class. The Apex Council must stop masquerading as representing our interests, otherwise they will face the vengeance of the agitated workers.

The first week, we are all logging in, but no one is working. On Friday May 10, we will announce a clear way forward if government fails to engage us.

Teachers uniting against austerity!

Pay us a living wage now!

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