BY Brenna Matendere
Rural teachers have resolved to start picketing at Finance minister Mthuli Ncube’s offices on pay days starting this month, to push for salaries pegged at interbank market rates.
Dubbed Pay Day Funerals, the protests will be led by the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz).
Artuz president Obert Masaraure told NewsDay that when picketing, teachers will wear black costumes as a sign that they are mourning the erosion of the value of their salaries.
“Teachers will be convening at the offices of the Finance ministry every pay day to mourn the deaths of our salaries. They will be wearing black clothes to send a clear message to Minister Mthuli Ncube that teachers are not happy and demand immediate restoration of the value of our salaries,” he said.
The next pay day for teachers is on August 16.
At the time of the introduction of bond notes that is now the official currency, teachers were earning an average US$500. That means at the current interbank rate, that would amount to an average of $4 500.
“The last time we protested at the ministry offices, we were arrested twice and released without charge. However, we are not scared of such harassment. We are only scared of the hunger, unaffordable healthcare and hopelessness engulfing our families because of the austerity-induced suffering,” Masaraure added.
The Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe has also indicated that it will urge its members to stay away from work at the beginning of the third term if their salaries are not significantly reviewed upwards.
The main labour body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions is, meanwhile, piling more pressure on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to address the plight of workers or face crippling countrywide protests.