Govt In Crunch Meeting As Teachers Stick To Guns Over Wage Demands

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By Matabeleland North Correspondent

PUBLIC Service Minister Paul Mavima has summoned teachers’ unions to a meeting in Harare Monday afternoon as the impasse between government and educators continues.

Some teachers have refused to go back to work citing incapacitation.

The Zimbabwe National Teachers Union (ZINATU), one of the teachers’ unions has said it is not moved by threats of dismissal uttered by Primary and Secondary Education Minister Can Mathema who has said thousands of teachers are on standby to replace those who have refused to go back to work.

In a statement, ZINATU said its members will not return to work unless the government meets their demands and accused Mathema of causing anarchy and discord.

“We wish to start by thanking the listening, passionate, forthcoming, action-oriented, sympathetic, focused, and objective Hon Minister Professor Paul Mavima for the gesture he has extended to all teacher unions for a meeting with him tomorrow. He never at any point directed threats of dismissals on us when he was Education Minister.

“However, we wish to very sadly and regrettably point out to the good professor that his appeal that we go back to work as negotiations with unions are in progress is not sustainably actionable. Our reasons are very simple, the Hon Professor needs to be further briefed why we are at home. Teachers have declared incapacitation. Our children who should have gone to their boarding schools are still with us at home. Our own employer has incapacitated us,” said ZINATU chief executive Manuel Nyawo.

He said the $1 500 teachers received last week was paltry and hardly enough to buy four grocery items.

“So our incapacitation issue has not been attended to. To be able to go back to work, put us at par with our counterparts whom you awarded more than us in June and the money must be backdated to the same month.

“We will use this money to carry our belongings to our stations but subject to meeting other conditions as raised below,” said Nyawo.

He said teachers want a living wage that will enable them to fees for their children,

“Give us a living wage that will enable us to pay between $28 000 and $40 000 in boarding fees which have been approved by the Ministry. The approval we presume was premised on the general range of civil servants’ salaries, teachers included with the assumption that we are capable of raising these fees from our salaries and so the need for an upward adjust must not be a tall order.

“That alone should tell you that any figure below $40 000 as salary for teachers is just not enough and your colleague Minister Cain Mathema who is reckless with his mouth must attest to that,” added Nyawo.

Teachers want the government to pay them a Covid-19 allowance, particularly the USD$150 which was introduced a few months ago and has only appeared on payslips and never paid, address sector-specific allowances but not at the National Joint Negotiating Committee (NJNC) platform where not all teacher unions will be represented.

He said teachers are not prepared to wait for the NJNC processes which ordinarily take long for their issues to be addressed.

They want a memorandum of agreement with the government reflecting specific areas of concern and the payable date which should be this month.

“Be informed and rest assured that by copy of this communique our members shall peacefully stay at home until further notice and realistic payments are made into their accounts or alternatively sound agreements are signed. We as ZINATU are not fighting government but are not motivated to go to work.

“Our spirits are at their lowest ebb and we don’t deserve reckless and provocative words as came from Minister Mathema who seems to have a penchant for distaste for teachers. He should desist from breeding anarchy and discord. If he wants our respect, he should respect us too.