By Anna Chibamu
THE country’s biggest teachers’ unions have vowed to go ahead with a nationwide strike Tuesday after last-minute meetings with the Primary and Secondary Education Minister Prof Paul Mavima apparently failed to stem the job action.
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) – the two largest education unions – insisted that their members would not report for work.
However, smaller unions such as the Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (TUZ) and Zimbabwe National Teachers Union (ZINATU) said they would consider government’s call for continuation of dialogue.
“We have made an appeal to the unions to say let us give this negotiation … and this process we are doing within the Ministry a chance,” Mavima said after Monday’s meetings.
“We also said the unions themselves are part of national institutions, they should be guided by considerations of a bigger national interest and in this particular case it is the welfare of the learners that should guide them.
“We had disturbances because of the riots that took place and it ate into the learning time of our learners. We cannot continue to lose time for our learners otherwise 2019 academic year will be a wash out.”
Teachers are demanding salary increments and other non-monetary benefits.
Several attempts to reach a consensus on the salary increase have failed to yield positive results with the teachers refusing a 10 percent hike offered by government.
In an interview with NewZimbabwe.com soon after Monday’s consultative meeting between government and the unions, ZIMTA CEO Sifiso Ndlovu said the strike would go ahead as planned because government had given too many empty promises.
“The decision we are taking is not based on our feelings, it is an institutional decision because we have nothing to say anymore to our members. We expected a written commitment from government, and we are looking for an economic answer,” said Ndlovu.
PTUZ President Raymond Majongwe weighed in saying, “Cdes the D-Day has come. We are going ahead as planned.
“The meeting we had today (Monday) did not address our demands. We did not expect it to, anyway. Our mission is purely a labour issue. All we want is better salaries. All unions are united this time.”
Meanwhile, explaining what transpired during the meetings; minister Mavima said; “We had a wide-ranging discussion where we were going to review some of the old policies in the education sector to make life easier for teachers.
“For salaries, it is not our mandate but, it is being handled at the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC).
“We have made an appeal to say let us give these negotiations a chance; the unions are part of national institutions, it is the welfare of learners that should guide them.
“We are hopeful that the teachers will give the negotiations a chance. A lot of them were very happy with the process and they gave a vote of thanks.”