Teachers have declared incapacitation to report for duty on Monday next week as schools open for the first term of 2022.
Several teachers` unions have announced that teachers would not be able to attend classes because they could not meet the costs of returning to work.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA), in a statement, said that teachers` salaries were no longer enabling them to lead a decent lifestyle and the situation had become “palatable.”
“…. ZIMTA now declares a state of incapacitation and now informs relevant authorities, parents, and stakeholders of this unpalatable situation in the education fraternity,” ZIMTA president Richard Gundane said. “We urge the responsible authorities to conclude the salary issue now and further desist from the tendency of throwing teachers and indeed the rest of the civil service into cyclic industrial disharmony,” he added.
Gundane said the salaries paid to teachers for January were not enough to meet the transport costs when traveling back to their work stations and to commute daily to work. He said teachers could not afford to pay school fees and buy uniforms for children.
“Educators have failed to pay school fees and buy uniforms for their children, let alone failure to subsist as families, a scenario that has pushed educators to moonlight,” he said.
Gundane added: “Teachers now postulate that the USD $75 .00 Covid-19 allowance was a make-believe gesture meant to pull wool over their faces so that the State would appear it cared about teachers’ welfare.”
He stated that teachers wanted a salary increase before schools opened to enable them to report for duty and added that the educators had lost confidence in the bargaining process through the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC).
“Without a meaningful salary increase, educators have no way of going back to assume their duties. The response from government in the last NJNC meeting did not give an aorta of hope, instead, it squandered all the goodwill that educators had credited the negotiating platform with.”
Teachers recently announced that they wanted the government to pay them up to USD$700 per month, up from the USD$540 per month they initially demanded.
Rengani Phiri, the Secretary-General of the Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (TUZ), in a letter addressed to the Public Service Commission, said the monthly wage was “unable to sustain” them to meet the costs of going back to work.
“The monthly wage is unable to sustain us up to the end of the month nor enable us to meet the Go Back to School costs. We are hoping on the benevolence of the government to review our monthly wage as augmented by the NJNC negotiators”, he said.
Phiri added that the government should not persecute teachers for not being able to report for duty.
“In light of the financial challenges being faced by our members, we are urging that no one should be reprimanded in whatever form for failure to report for duty on the declared date,” added Phiri
Progressive Teachers of Zimbabwe President Dr. Takavafira Zhou said on Twitter that by failing to pay teachers what they were asking for, the government was being insensitive to their plight.
“It is dangerous to underestimate the power of hungry and angry teachers in their number. Government’s insensitivity to the plight of starving teachers and loss of touch with reality in schools is shocking and baffling,” he said.
The NJNC negotiations which kicked off mid-last month have not resulted in any salary agreement between the government and civil servants.