BY SILAS NKALA
THE Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou says teachers have relapsed into incapacitation because the salary increment effected by government in February for civil servants has since been eroded by inflation.
Government in February this year increased civil servants salaries by between 140% to 200% depending on the grades of the government employees, a development that enabled the least paid to take home $3 000.
“We said it in February that teachers did not need a salary increase, but restoration of their purchasing power parity. Those who thought PTUZ was radical need to look at basics. When teachers got that so called salary increase in February, a standard pocket of potatoes was $80 cash,” Zhou said.
“It is now $200 or more; 1 litre of milk was $15, and it’s now $27, bread was $17, it is now $24. The salary of teachers is being eroded against United States dollar with US$10 now trading at $400. Rentals are now charged in US dollars with a single small room costing between US$30 and US$50; fuel has virtually dried up except at garages selling in forex and 1 litre costs US$1.25.”
Zhou said the economy was dollarising fast despite government denial.
“We reiterate our long held view that teachers do not need a salary increase or cushion, but restoration of the US$520 salary or its equivalent in terms of inter-bank rate. Any other claim is ludicrous lunacy that must never be entertained by trade union leaders worth their salt,” Zhou said.
“The more things appear to change in Zimbabwe, the more they remain the same. Yes, the government and Apex Council talked of continued negotiations after the increase. But have you ever heard of any further negotiations after the Victoria Falls meeting? Virtually nothing.”
He urged teachers’ unions to take the collective action to address the plight of educators.
“We also call upon the Apex Council to rise to the occasion and show workers fruits of further negotiations that they alluded to from the Victoria Falls meeting. The cause of workers cannot be surrendered even under difficult conditions,” he said.
“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary actions and extraordinary solutions. Teachers are their own liberators.”
Following the negotiations between government and its workers in January, Apex Council president Cecilia Alexander said her outfit was pushing government to have salaries reviewed quarterly and Labour minister Paul Mavima also promised to negotiate with Treasury for periodic salary reviews.-