Zim teachers divided on how to handle wage dispute with government

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By Idah Mhetu

CRACKS continue manifesting among Zimbabwean civil servants as two prominent teachers union groups Tuesday presented a divided front on how to resolve their drawn out salary impasse with government.

The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) which has fronted the recent onslaught to press for US dollar wages and better working conditions, wants an all-out strike for wages.

On the other hand, the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), another prominent teachers group, is encouraging teachers to report to work only twice a week until the government resolves their grievances.

This emerged during a joint press conference between ARTUZ and PTUZ in which the two unions were giving an update on how they viewed their current wage impasse with their employer.

ARTUZ president Obert Masaraure, who led a brave 275KM march for better wages with his colleagues recently, said teachers will not report for duty at all until the government addresses their grievances.

“Rural teachers will not report for duty until the government decides to address our grievances,” he said.

On the other hand, PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said teachers will only be able to report for duty two days per week due to poor remuneration and the high cost of living.

“Teachers will only report for duty twice a week; just as the government approved nurses to do so, they should also approve teachers to report for duty twice a week no matter which day,” said Majongwe.

Zimbabwean teachers, who form the majority of the country’s bloated workforce, are not the only civil servants group that has shown divisions on how to handle their salary squabbles with their employer.

Public hospital doctors who have put government under siege through a 36-day long job action from last month, also exhibited cracks in their camp when a section of them Monday heeded the call to go back to work while some chose to stay at home saying government was not yet clear on how it was going to handle their salary and other grievances.

Government’s restless workforce has intensified its demands for US dollar wages as prices of goods and services have gone up three to four times since October last year.

They also want government to pay their full 2018 bonuses and also improve their working conditions.

Government has refused to pay any section of its giant workforce in foreign currency insisting that its primary revenue sources were in local currency.