Unions’ rivalry scuttles teachers’ pay negotiations

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HARARE – Teachers unions are failing to come up with a unified position on salaries, with one union demanding $550 while another is pressing for a $1 000 basic salary amid intense politicking and bickering.

Raymond Majongwe, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general, has slammed Zimbabwe Teacher’ Association (Zimta) chief executive Sifiso Ndlovu — who wants government to pay a qualified teacher at least $1 000 per month — accusing him of flip-flopping.

Majongwe told teachers who had gathered for the Teachers’ Day celebrations in Harare over the weekend that Zimta had backtracked on the agreed position that teachers should be awarded a figure matching the Poverty Datum Line (PDL), currently pegged at $550. Majongwe went on to brand Ndlovu a “bad leader”.

However, Ndlovu hit back yesterday in an incident that reflects escalating tensions among unions.

“I never hired Majongwe as my spokesperson and therefore he has no right to say I said this and that,” Ndlovu said.

“He is misinterpreting Zimta’s standpoint. Zimta is advocating that the lowest paid civil servant, who can be a cleaner, to be awarded $540.

“The teacher is not the lowest paid government employee and therefore we have said teachers need to get a basic salary of $690 excluding allowances.”Zimta is demanding that the least paid teacher who is under the D1 grade be paid $988 including transport and housing allowances.

“Majongwe is an activist who doesn’t know anything about teachers,” Ndlovu said.

“He was never a teacher and his attitude is expected. His remarks indicate that he is insecure and trying to seek attention. Fortunately we won’t be drawn into useless mudslinging.”

The rivalry exploded during weekend events when they held separate Teachers’ Day celebrations. Zimta held its celebrations at Celebration Centre, while PTUZ was at Africa Unity Square.

Primary and Secondary Education minster,  Lazarus Dokora, bemoaned the split in the teachers’ ranks saying there was need for unity.

“In the morning I was at PTUZ celebrations and now I am at Zimta’s function,” Dokora said at the Zimta event. “Since you both represent teachers, why didn’t you have one celebration? I wish next year when we celebrate this day, you will be united because there is power in unity.”

Richard Gundane, Zimta president, reiterated the need for unity.

“Today we face a challenge of both choice and indifference in the labour movement, particularly with the advent of a proliferation of unions and a large number of fence sitters too,” Gundane said.

“When you have 60 percent of educators’ unionised and five unions representing them, then you know the trade union movement is under threat.”

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