1 January 2013

Zimbabwe: 'Teachers to Report for Duty'

Photo: Obi-Akpere/IRIN-Flickr
Zimbabwe's unity government has announced a package of measures to get teachers and children back into classrooms.

Bulawayo bureau — Teachers will report for duty as normal when schools re-open next week despite concerns about their salaries, representatives of teachers' unions said yesterday. Schools open for the first term on 8 January.

"For now schools will open as scheduled without our disgruntled members going on strike over salary issues.

"We are waiting anxiously for Government to come up with a good package for the teachers before our membership embark on an industrial action later in January," said the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association secretary-general, Mr Richard Gundani.

In his budget statement, Finance Minister Tendai Biti said the Government would award civil servants an inflation-based salary increment this year. Zimbabwe has an annual inflation of less than five percent.

Mr Gundani said the teachers were not going to accept inflation-related salary increment because the increment would be paltry.

He said the lowest paid worker was taking home about US$300.

Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe national co-ordinator Mr Enoch Paradzayi said recently they held a meeting and resolved to go on strike if their plight was not addressed by pay day.

He said the inflation based salary increment, which Government intended to award was a drop in the ocean.

He said although Minister Biti had announced that civil servants would this month receive inflation-based salary increment, no official document had been given to PTUZ to that effect.

"The salary increment that will be inflation related is paltry as it will see our salaries increasing by between US$18 and US$20," said Mr Paradzayi.

He said that in 2012 the teachers were awarded allowances of US$58.

"Government needs to be lenient and award a salary in line with the PDL," he said.

"After schools closed in December, as PTUZ we had a meeting where we agreed that if nothing is done we will engage in industrial action in January.

"We are now waiting to see what package Government will offer prior to our national executive meeting, which will determine the way forward," he said.

He said unlike in the past few years schools were opening for first term without package negotiations having been concluded by Government.

Public Service Minister Ms Lucia Matibenga declined to comment referring questions to the Public Commission chairperson Dr Mariyawanda Nzuwa.

Dr Nzuwa could not be reached for comment while repeated efforts to get a comment from Ms Matibenga's deputy Andrew Langa were futile as his mobile phone went unanswered.

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