BY LORRAINE MUROMO
INCARCERATED teachers’ union leader Obert Masaraure yesterday urged fellow educators not to “sell-out” in the push for United States dollar salaries ahead of their crunch meeting with government next week.
Teachers and other civil servants gave the government a two-week notice to embark on strike following a deadlock in wage negotiations.
Yesterday, teachers’ unions were locked in meetings to plot the way forward after the notice expired on Thursday, with government insisting that it has no capacity to pay US dollar salaries.
But Masaraure, who is the president of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz), urged educators not to abandon the demand for US dollar salaries.
“Teachers, as I am in prison, I hear they (government representatives) plan on meeting us sometime next week to discuss the conditions of living in our sector as if they don’t know. Firstly, the prices of goods are now pegged in US$ while our labour is being paid in non-existent currency called RTGS,” Masaraure who is at Harare Central Remand Prison said in a letter to fellow educators.
Masaraure also faces a murder charge emanating from the 2016 death of Artuz activist Roy Issa.
Issa fell to his death from a hotel room in the capital, and an inquest had ruled out foul play.
Masaraure warned teachers against being wood-winked by government.
“I urge you, union leaders in the teaching profession, please do not sell out. This is our chance to unite all teachers and bring back classroom dignity. It is at this point in time that we must demand what was stolen from us by the failed economic policies,” he said.
“Now it is time to show the employer that us teachers, we are a united force. Let’s just demand a fair and decent wage as it is our right. We must be part of the historic strike in demanding labour justice in our sector. There is power in unity, let’s all unite to achieve what we have been fighting for since October 2018.”
Teachers are demanding US$540 salaries to make ends meet in the face of skyrocketing prices of basic goods and services.
Some businesses including retail shops are now exclusively selling some of their products in foreign currency.