Rural teachers withdraw labour, accuse govt of dirty tactics

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By Anna Chibamu

A teachers union has accused government of intimidating its members after it decided on industrial action beginning Monday.

In a statement, Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) president, Obert Masaraure said his labour body’s call to down tools has been well received by rural teachers.

“Teachers are demanding a living wage. We want our current salaries of around 500RTGS$ to be paid in USD, as was the case before the current crisis.

“The strike involves total withdrawal of labour,” said Masaraure.

He bemoaned what he called “State propaganda machinery and intimidation by State agents” for instilling fear in rural teachers. He said government has gone all-out to rubbish and stop the industrial action.

“The State propaganda machinery is in full throttle labelling our noble job action as a regime change agenda. This has become a trend of our country but it is wrong.

“This is a pure labour dispute, which should be resolved in the best interest of labour justice,” Masaraure said.

The unionist urged government to stop harassing ARTUZ members and called on his union members to report any form of violation or intimidation.

Prices of basic commodities have soared in recent weeks triggered by a weakening local RTGS$ against major currencies.

Rates on the parallel market have also spiraled out of control with most suppliers of goods and services now demanding payment in foreign currency. Treasury last week was forced into issuing a statement ordering government departments to stop charging the public for services in foreign currency.

In April, government gave all civil servants a cushion allowance that came to about RTGS$50 but this was immediately wiped out by inflation. The Civil Service Commission has indicated another allowance will be advanced to its workers by mid-year.

While government has been engaging its workers through the Apex Council, ARTUZ has discredited the negotiations accusing the government of “choosing to engage the illegal and redundant Apex Council avoiding genuine dialogue.”