Govt lights fires under provincial directors for protecting striking teachers

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By Alois Vinga

GOVERNMENT has issued a chilling warning to Provincial Educational Directors, accusing them of siding with striking teachers through failure to submit names of the educators who have persisted with their strike.

Zimbabwean teachers have been on strike since the resumption of school learning September this following a Covid-19 induced long break.

The vocal section of government’s giant workforce has insisted it will not resume work unless its employer restores its US$500 plus wage which teachers earned before the unpopular introduction of the Zim-dollar.

Teachers have adamantly refused an equivalent of US$150 wage offer by government which has taken a defiant approach to the stance by the educators, often reminding the educators they were not going to receive their pays if they did not report for duty.

However, PEDs have been found to be a big obstacle to government attempts to punish the defiant teachers through apparent unwillingness to follow directives to compile names of teachers who have failed to turn to work in their provinces.

In a Memo signed by the Primary and Secondary Ministry’s chief human resources director, Learnson Tagara Monday, the country’s 10 PEDs were threatened for ignoring government’s directives.

According to the communication, as of end of day Friday 13 November, no province had submitted the requested information on names of teachers who had not reported for duty since September 28.

“This memo serves as a reminder that the information required is now overdue. Non submission or further delays may be interpreted as sympathising with the industrial action which may lead to disciplinary action being taken against responsible officials. This matter must be treated with the urgency it deserves,” said Tagara.

Meanwhile, unions have criticised the government’s decision to withdraw salaries for striking teachers describing the actions as “desperate.

“We expect more desperate actions from the Ministry besides this threat of withdrawing salaries and bonuses. Would the bonuses and unpaid salaries walk to schools and classrooms to do the work of the teachers who don’t have the means to report for duty?” Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary general, Japhet Moyo questioned.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou maintained that the strike will go on and rubbished salary cuts.

“It is unlawful and a clear violation of the Labour Act, section 65 of National Constitution, and ILO Conventions 87 and 98 to which Zimbabwe is a signatory.

“Fundamentally, government has incapacitated teachers by reducing their salaries from US$550 to US$40 and it has no locus standi to deny them a salary, let alone bonus,” he said.