By Daniel Itai, Harare Zimbabwe
Two of the country’s teachers’ unions which are amongst the unions which are currently embroiled in a nationwide strike have vowed to continue protesting until the government concedes to their demands.
“”We are going to continue striking until the government addresses our plight. We need a living wage of US$520 and PPE.
Nothing else can be done than staying at home, this is not a strike but incapacitation we can not afford to report for duty.
Moreover, we haven’t yet engaged with the government yet the Minister of Education chose to offer threats that he intends to fire teachers on incapacitation,” said Nation Mudzitirwa, Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ)’s spokesperson.
Dr. Takavafira Zhou, president of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), also said their members were going to continue in protest.
“The duration of the strike will be determined by the ability of government to address our legitimate demands, which include, restoration of teachers’ salaries purchasing power pegged at between US$52 and US$550 that was unilaterally reduced to US$35 by government.
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We have therefore a dispute of right over the callous and monumental injustice or unfair labour practice. We want government to implement sector specific allowances agreed over but never implemented. Prioritisation of health and safety of teachers and pupils through acquisition and placement of COVID-19 abatement equipment in schools and testing of all teachers, pupils and ancillary staff and a guarantee of paying a reasonable COVID-19 risk allowance to teachers amongst others.
Moreover, government has adopted an intransigent and irresponsible hard-line stance threatening to dismiss teachers but in a question of life and death teachers are prepared to be dismissed. At any rate teachers’ starvation wages are just as good as being dismissed. Threatening to dismiss teachers is just like threatening to kill a corpse. At any rate with 120 000 teachers engaged in incapacitation mode out of 136 000, we don’t see where the government can get such personnel to replace this number. So the replacement threat is vogue and vacuous.
However, our struggle will reach another level where our students who need our services must intervene in scenarios similar to the Soweto Rising of the 1970s, whilst parents who have paid exorbitant fees must be ready to add their voices for payment of a living wage to teachers. Teachers are everything yet they now count for nothing in Zimbabwe,” said Dr. Zhou.