Teachers press for US dollar salaries

TEACHERS continue to press for wages denominated in United States dollars or its equivalence
in local currency despite government’s current pre-occupation with the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Veneranda Langa

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafara Zhou yesterday said despite the pandemic and
the lockdown, teachers in the country were using social media platforms like WhatsApp to reach their students to
provide online lessons.

“We are aware that government is currently pre-occupied with the COVID-19 pandemic effects, yet sound government thrust must be on these key issues: the restoration of teachers’ salaries and purchasing power parity must never be relegated,” Zhou said in a statement to mark the May 1 Workers’ Day commemorations.

“The payment of an average of US$520 that a teacher earned in 2018 or its interbank rate equivalence is long
overdue.

“Not only has government presided over inordinate price increases, but it has also created unimaginable salary
discrepancies that cumulatively have pushed teachers into poverty and penury.”

Teachers and their employer have been squaring off since last year when government dumped the multi-currency system and started paying its workers in Zimdollars.

PTUZ yesterday said it felt government had taken better care of university lecturers far much better than for
primary and secondary school teachers.

“While we certainly do not begrudge university lecturers’ salaries that are now above $27 000 and actually feel
they deserve more, we note that the $3 000 that a teacher earns has defied the usual 1:3 salary ratio that usually
prevailed under the late former President Robert Mugabe’s regime,” Zhou said.

He alleged that top government employees earn more than 18 times the salary of a teacher.

“Government has made promises to address the plight of teachers in the past, but they have up to now not materialised. It must be noted that when teachers speak, they also do it on behalf of all general government workers, police force and soldiers who, by nature of their profession, may not be allowed to amplify their voices of anguish and grinding poverty,” Zhou said.

The PTUZ said the current salaries for teachers could hardly pay for electricity and water bills, rent, feed families or pay for medical bills and the education of their children.

“Worse still, government has been prevaricating on the constant request by teachers to be exempted from paying tuition fees for just three children per teacher since they are offering the service,” Zhou said.

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