Teachers have rejected the 40 percent cost of living adjustment offer by the government demanding a wage in the region of USD 520 for the lowest paid public worker synonymous with their October 2018 pay structure.
In an interview with with 263Chat, spokesperson of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) Obert Masaraure also accused government of negotiating civil servants salaries in bad faith.
"The 40 percent increment is a mockery to the teachers who are earning 17 percent of the Total Consumption Poverty Line.The government is developing a knack of playing the wrong card all the time. We do not need an increment but the restoration of our October 2018 salaries. The 40% will aid teachers to effectively coordinate the ongoing job action awaiting a genuine salary review," said Masaraure.
He emphasized that teachers will not going back to work until their demands were met.
"We are never going to step into the classroom until the salary crisis is resolved. We still demand USD 520, anything else is not welcome," he added.
Addressing the media yesterday, The Minister of Information Publicity and Broadcasting, Monica Mutsvangwa assured civil servants that the government is aware of their plight and is committed to improving their welfare.
"Consultations are currently underway to consider the request by the Apex Council in the last negotiating meeting held with the government. On its part, the government has maintained the US$75 Covid-19 allowance up to the end of December and the 40 percent cost of living adjustment, which the workers have requested government to improve, has been paid and will reflect in civil servants' accounts by end of day on tomorrow (Friday)," she said.
Teachers currently earn ZWL$3,500 (about US$42) per month, and the 40 percent increment reflects a massive mismatch with inflation figures hovering above 700 percent.
This comes barely a week after electricity tariffs shot by 100 percent.
"Normally, the government does not effect salary adjustments without a signed agreement, but we have had to go out of our way to cushion our dedicated workers," Mutsvangwa said.
"Meanwhile, negotiations at the National Joint Negotiating Council will continue and any agreement arrived at will be honored in the spirit of collective bargaining... I appeal to civil servants to be patient and allow negotiations to be concluded."
In a statement, the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe said the government should close schools and begin serious wage negotiations.
"The situation in schools is bad, more than 90 percent of teachers have abandoned their stations due to incapacitation. The government should stop endangering children, close schools and open talks with teaches' representatives. The term will start when they recognize teachers' worth. They should stop burying heads in the sand," read the statement.
Former education minister David Coltart warned of an "unfolding catastrophe" in schools, after pupils lost six months of learning to the coronavirus.
He said only those from rich families with access to the internet and private tuition would be ready for exams set to begin in December.
The strike might just ensure children from poorer backgrounds have no chance of passing.
"With teachers not reporting for work due to slave wages, and the minister threatening them, this has the potential to create a generation of uneducated children. What is needed is honest and respectful dialogue, not threats," Coltart wrote on Twitter..
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of ZimbabweincapacitationMinistry of Information Publicity and BroadcastingMonica MutsvagwaObert Masaraure