6 January 2014

Zimbabwe: Teachers Threaten Strike Over Pay Dispute

Photo: New Zimbabwe
Civil servants protesting (file photo).

Teachers could strike after schools open next week in a dispute over pay that has been raging for months, a union leader has warned.

Takavafira Zhou, the President of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said the ZANU PF government must honour its electoral promise to increase salaries for civil servants.

In the run up to and after the July 31st polls President Robert Mugabe promised to improve the welfare of government employees, a pledge that has not yet been fulfilled.

Just before the Christmas break in December last year, civil servants' representatives met in Harare with government officials, in their first joint negotiating meeting in two and a half years.

The union representatives said that meeting was "very inconclusive" and there was hope government would reconvene a meeting in January to start the salary negotiations.

Zhou said there is a general consensus among teachers that the meeting should happen before schools open next week, warning of dire consequences if the government ignores them.

"The meeting over salaries should be held this week and the latest date for such a meeting is Friday," said Zhou, who accused government of being "evasive, illusive and prevaricating" over the pay dispute.

"If talks fail, there are several options that may happen and industrial action is one method of negotiating to induce government to meet workers," added Zhou.

Teachers in Zimbabwe earn a basic salary of between $300 and $480 per month, but the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says a food basket for an average family of five now costs $540 a month.

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