‘Business as usual’ as teachers back at work after strike threat

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By Anna Chibamu

IT was business as usual at most urban and rural government schools on the second day of the new school term this week according to teachers’ representatives who spoke to on Wednesday.

Unions had called a strike, demanding a 100 percent salary hike and vowed that schools would not open for the second term this Tuesday if government did not award the wage increment.

Government held two meetings with the Federation of Zimbabwe Educators Unions (FOZEU) and the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) on Monday to avert a nationwide strike by the teachers.

The administration offered the tutors, and the rest of the civil service, a 10 percent salary increment effective July 1 which was however, rejected by unions.

A second meeting between the unions and the employer has been scheduled for May 14 but some unions said their members would continue with the strike regardless.

In an interview Wednesday, Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (ZIMTA) chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu said teachers largely returned back to work.

“Our teachers have taken heed of our call to return to work,” he said.

“We may have a few that are not yet at work because of the time lag between the announcement and the action which was limited.

“So, we may have some delay, but we are certain that tomorrow (Thursday) we will have the schools fully functional and having normal sessions.”

Ndlovu stated that the government has indicated that it may not negotiate with FOZEU, the umbrella grouping of education unions.

Instead, the unions will meet with government under NJNC.

“FOZEU is not yet registered and it has to be formalized for government to recognise it,” said Ndlovu.

However, Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) leader Obert Masaraure said the members were on strike.

The union vowed to continue with the job action, telling its members to stage sit-ins when schools opened Tuesday.

“The response from teachers from the rural areas is overwhelming,” he said.

“We are pleased that the comrades are actually asking for more. They want to go on a full-blown strike.

“We are battling to calm them down so that we wait for the 14th of May negotiations with government.”

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