Zimbabwe’s biggest teachers’ union, Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) has announced that teachers will not be able to report for duty next week on Monday the 28th when public schools reopen unless they are paid a COVID-19 allowance and given a pay rise.
The government shut schools in March in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected 7,683 people and led to 225 deaths. Most schools are due to re-open next week, although only for students sitting their final exams.
ZIMTA, in a circular to its 42,000 members, called for monthly pay to be a minimum $520 (42,488 Zimbabwe dollars), compared to the 4,000 Zimbabwe dollars that the lowest paid teacher earns.
ZIMTA released a statement on the matter and said:
After a wide consultation of all our 42,000 members, the ZIMTA national executive hereby declares that educators will not be able to report for duty on September 28 2020, for the opening of schools as they are incapacitated.
Teachers have constantly said inflation has risen to 761% but their salaries have not been reviewed upwards and they are still earning anything between $35 and $70 a month. Teachers have repeatedly called the government to give them a salary equivalent to the salaries they were earning in October 2018 which is equivalent to $520.
Public sector workers in Zimbabwe have frequently gone on strike since 2018 as the local currency has tumbled, fuelling inflation and eroding incomes.
Before the outbreak of COVID-19, Zimbabwe’s economy was already battling runaway inflation while millions face hunger due to poor harvests.
Two weeks ago, nurses ended a three-month job boycott to give negotiations a chance.