Teachers threaten legal action against government

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TEACHERS’ unions have threatened to take legal action against the government if it goes ahead with its plan to take disciplinary measures against educators who are currently on strike, the Daily News reports.
Last week, the Public Service Commission directed the ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to invoke the “no work, no pay” principle against the striking teachers.

This comes as teachers, who have been on strike for four months now since schools reopened in a staggered manner in September, are demanding to be paid US$420 or its equivalent at the foreign currency auction
rate.

Currently, the least paid teacher earns around $18 000 before tax. In a joint statement yesterday, all but one of the country’s eight teachers’ unions claimed school heads, district and provincial officials were being victimised by their
employer.

“Ministry of Education plenipotentiaries like school heads, district schools inspectors and directors are now being
unfairly targeted for victimisation and accused of being part of the teacher incapacitation. “It is a fact that
those officials are as incapacitated as teachers and should not be singled out for harassment.

“It is unfortunate that the government is deliberately misconstruing our genuine case of incapacitation for a strike. This is meant to justify their illegal victimisation of teachers.

“We have resolved to file a court application if the government engages in any rash decision that seeks to punish our members, heads, district schools inspectors and directors,” the unions said.

The teachers said the Economic Research Unit in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office “which had been scheduled to meet the united front of teachers chickened out” yesterday.

This comes as the Zimbabwe Teachers Association, which was not represented when the resolutions were
made, met with Mnangagwa separately a fortnight ago.

The Apex Council should not be rushed into signing an agreement without the concurrence and buy-in from the education sector.

“We seek an urgent meeting with Public Service minister Paul Mavima. We will also urgently seek to
meet the International Labour Organisation (ILO) locally, regionally and internationally,” the unions said.

This also comes as the government insists it would not meet the teachers’ demands as this had potential
to upset the current price stability being experienced in the economy.

In a November 6 circular to regional directors, education permanent secretary Thumisang Thabela expressed concern that while headmasters had been submitting attendance statistics to the command centre, school authorities had avoided revealing absentee teachers’ names.

“In view of the above, provincial education directors are hereby directed to submit the details of teachers that have been absent from duty for the period 28 September to 6 November to head office through their respective human resources directors by end of day on Wednesday, 11 November for onward submission to the Public Service
Commission,” Thabela said.

The directive was a reaction to a circular written to the ministry by Public Service chairperson Jonathan Wutawunashe on October 26 demanding that disciplinary measures be taken against teachers who ignored the
government’s directive to report for duty by September
28.

The industrial action by teachers has paralysed learning, amid calls the government must call off this year’s public examinations.

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