Teachers vow government confrontation over wage freeze

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By Staff Reporter

ZIMBABWE teachers have threatened a crippling strike if government went ahead with plans to freeze their wages.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Paul Mavima last week told hundreds of primary school heads in Victoria Falls that government had no money to meet their pay increment demands.

Mavima said government was in fact still battling serious teacher shortages in the country’s learning institutions.

Teachers have however not taken the pronouncements any lighter, further threatening a showdown with their “insensitive” employer.

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has described the latest move as “irresponsible, unpalatable, unacceptable and retrogressive.”

“For the record, the issue of salaries is under the purview of the employer the Public Service Commission (PSC),” said PTUZ secretary general Raymond Majongwe.

“How is the Minister, who is head of a ministry, suddenly become the employer for teachers?” Majongwe said.

The PTUZ chief said matters of salary increments were a product of collective bargaining as was provided for by the law.

“Even the employer cannot make such dangerous declarations,” he said.

Following a wave of price increases since the beginning of this month, Zimbabwean teachers have demanded payment of their wages in foreign currency.

In light of the increases, coupled with government’s 2 percent tax imposed on all electronic transfers, Majongwe said, teachers were now earning an equivalent of US$75.

“If these statements are a reflection of the ethos of the new dispensation, then this new dispensation is nothing but a fraud.

“All teachers should brace for combative resistance against this insensitive government,” Majongwe said.

The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) also vowed confrontation with government if their employer failed to heed their demands.

“We are however aware that the government must be pushed to do the right thing and we have enough manpower and resolve to give them a fair dosage of protests,” said ARTUZ president Obert Masaraure in a statement weekend.

“We will unapologetically learning to a halt in all schools in pursuit of labour justice,”

Masaraure slammed government for “vainly hoping that the market will fix our economic nightmares whilst they drown themselves in whiskey”.

“Austerity including salary increment freezes will not spur our ailing economy. Massive state planning by a corruption free government is imperative,” he said.

Masaraure also demanded US dollar salaries for teachers.

“In the interim, teachers need their salaries in US dollars as negotiated in the year 2012.

“An increment in line with the rise in the cost of living should be awarded in US dollars terms,” he said.