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Teacher unions blast free service move

Local News
Takavafira Zhou


TEACHERS unions say they will not succumb to government’s attempt to pressure public workers to offer free services.

Recently, about 400 teachers reportedly offered to “teach for free” in schools across the country as a way of showing patriotism.

Teachers have for long been battling their employer for better remuneration and working conditions amid a deteriorating economy and skyrocketing inflation.

“It is madness of the worst kind, if not a ludicrous hallucination. It’s peddled by the government in an attempt to justify the underpayment of teachers on the pretext that there are qualified teachers ready to render services freely,” Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou said.

He said teachers were not slaves and ought to earn a living wage.

“We have a deficit of more than 50 000 teachers in schools and government must urgently fill the deficit as a matter of urgency. Government must come up with contingent measures to remunerate teachers well rather than trying to justify the unjustifiable.”

Educators Union of Zimbabwe (EUZ) secretary-general Tapedza Zhou accused the Primary and Secondary Education ministry of politicising the sector.

“Ministry officials have been drinking too much from the glass of politicians to the extent of using partisan and corrupted vocabulary, where they interchangeably use ‘patriotism’ and ‘impoverishment’ as if they mean the same,” Zhou said.

“What patriotism comes from an impoverished teacher? Why are responsible ministry officials, most of whom are not impoverished, not leading by example in patriotism by paying the volunteering teachers, instead of, for example, splashing money on foreign musicians during their own birthday parties?”

Zimbabwe Teachers Association secretary-general Goodwell Taderera said the move was an (unfair) labour practice.

“Where in the world have you seen people working for free? How can people be donating their labour for nothing, which is a serious and gross [unfair] labour practice?  It can only be a gimmick from authorities and the powers that be in order to pacify teachers and they do not fight for their rights. That gives us the resolve to keep fighting even harder,” Taderera said.

The ministry’s director of communications and advocacy, Taungana Ndoro is on record saying that the move by the “teachers” to offer free services is a form of patriotism that he claimed would help in nation-building.

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