Teachers to strike

The two main bodies representing Zimbabwe’s teachers have both decided to go on strike as the first term of school begins next week. The issue, as always, is government’s failure to meet the teachers’ demands for salaries that are in line with the basic minimum required to survive.

Both the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA), in a rare cooperation, have said their members will not report for duty when schools open next week unless there is a firm commitment by government to meet their demands.

Teachers are paid an average of $250 to $320, when a minimum $502 per month is required for a family of four. The teachers are also demanding transport and housing allowances. Many are forced to engage in other business activities during school hours in order to support their families.

The teachers’ were further angered recently when parliamentarians got together and demanded allowances owed to them by government, and received them. Teachers say this shows there is money in the government coffers for the MPs own allowances, yet teachers are being ignored.

Several promises by government to better their salaries have not been fulfilled and this time the teachers say they will not end the strike unless government shows a firm commitment to meet their demands.

Last year Robert Mugabe met with civil servants’ representatives and promised to double their salaries, using money earned from the sale of diamonds. This never happened.

ZANU PF claimed it was Finance Minister Tendai Biti who was refusing to increase the salaries, but Biti insists the money from diamonds is not making it into the treasury and government is broke.

PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said the decision to strike would not be reversed “We know that government has money and we have been watching them,” Majongwe is quoted as saying.

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