SENIOR STAFF WRITER
STRIKING teachers have reviewed downwards their salary demands amid no learning in most public schools as the month-long work stoppage by the educators continues, the Daily News reports.
The teachers are now demanding a salary of US$360 monthly or the equivalent in local currency at the prevailing foreign currency auction rate. They were initially demanding US$520.
This comes as the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) last week met President Emmerson Mnangagwa and pleaded with him to intervene and improve their conditions of service.
It also comes as fissures have emerged among teachers’ unions amid accusations that Zimta’s meeting with the president was secretive and that the country’s biggest teacher representative organisation had sold out by reviewing their demands without consulting.
In a letter to Public Service minister Paul Mavima dated October 29, Zimta chief executive Sifiso Ndlovu reiterated the challenges faced by teachers and spelt out their perceived solution to the crisis.
“While we subscribe to staggered incremental adjustments towards the ideal level of remuneration that restores purchasing power parity to the pre-currency switch levels, we recommend that the imminent bargaining session addresses the salary issue where the lowest paid teacher earns no less than US$360 this October and that sector specific allowances be instituted immediately.
“Further to the above, we recommend that you pay attention to structural differentiations in grades, qualifications and length of service.
“This in our estimate can be considered a reasonable and capacitating movement that can motivate teacher performance and service delivery under the circumstances,” Ndlovu said in the letter.
When they started their strike action after schools opened in September, the teachers were demanding the US$520 they were being paid before the introduction of the local currency.
Other unions, including the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz), came out guns blazing, accusing the government of using divide and rule tactics.
“We are disappointed that the government has decided to engage one, out of eight registered teachers’ unions. What is most unfair is the fact that the eight unions wrote a letter requesting a meeting with the president yet he chose to engage with one.
“There is an old adage that says nothing for us without us. Government cannot broker an agreement with one union and celebrate victory…..,” PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said.
Deputy Public Service minister Lovemore Matuke would not be drawn into commenting, referring questions to Mavima who was not picking up calls.