Teachers vow to continue with strike

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TEACHERS have vowed to continue with their job action after a meeting with the government yesterday failed to yield results as their employer did not bring an improved offer to the table, the Daily News reports.

This comes as the country’s educators embarked on a nationwide boycott of classes since schools re-opened last week, demanding salaries in United States dollars and improved working conditions amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic that has so far killed close to 230 Zimbabweans.

This prompted Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema,  and his Public Service counterpart Paul Mavima to call an emergency meeting with teachers’ unions.

However, in a joint statement after the meeting, the unions described the meeting as a “waste of time”.

“The employer has not brought anything to the table except asking for our position paper, promising to organise a meeting between us and the president (Emmerson Mnangagwa) and pleading with us to go back to work while negotiations continue. We, however, have said we will not take that because we remain incapacitated and demand the restoration of the purchasing power parity of US$520 or auction rate equivalent that we were paid in October 2018,” Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) chief executive Sifiso Ndlovu said.

Neither Mavima nor Mathema was taking calls when efforts to get their side of the story were made after the meeting.

Other unions represented at the meeting included the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Democratic Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe National Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe National Educators Union and the Zimbabwe Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe.

In the position paper presented to the government, the teachers accused their employer of favouring other civil servants, especially the uniformed forces.

“The irony of this situation has been your piecemeal and discriminatory awards for public service, State employees and civil servants with other State employees getting better rewards. This is surprising as much as it is shocking and indeed frustrating. The armed forces seem to be holding the better end of the stick whereby they get salaries that double the teachers’ salaries … we feel this is unjustifiable, unnecessary and provocative,” the teachers said.

Civil servants are paid an average of $4 200 against a poverty datum line of $17 244 for a family of six.

Last week, the government announced a cushioning allowance of 40 percent of their salary on top of the US$75 Covid-19 allowance they were given in June.

This comes as the government has threatened to recruit 20 000 unemployed teachers to replace those on strike.

The teachers also reminded the government that they were expecting to be paid their bonuses as the year-end approaches.

“As we approach the year-end, we just want to remind you of our legitimate expectation of the payment of the 13th cheque and we expect it to include allowances,” the teachers said.

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