Teachers not moved by Govt threats

Teachers say that they are not moved by threats from the government to withhold their salaries as punishment for not reporting for duty.

Their sentiments come after the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Permanent Secretary, Tumisang Thabela, in a memorandum dated October 14, 2021, directed all Provincial Education Directors to submit names of all absentee teachers who have not reported for duty since schools re-opened this term on September 6, 2021.

Instead, the teachers remain adamant they are incapacitated to report for duty.

Thabela said the Public Service Commission (PSC) has observed that some teachers are not reporting for duty.

“In line with the ‘no work, no pay’ principle, members who absent themselves from work should not receive their salaries for the period they were absent. In view of the above, please submit names of those who have not been reporting to the Head Office urgently. Your reports should reach my office by October 19, 2021,” said the perm sec.

The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) said that the government is addicted to threats and teachers would not be moved by the empty threats.

“We demand the restoration of our pre-October 2018 salaries. Teachers are not reporting for duty because they are incapacitated, threats won’t capacitate them. The government is failing to implement its ‘no work and no pay’ policy because each and every civil servant agrees that if there’s no pay, there is no work that should be rendered,” said ARTUZ president, Obert Masaraure in an interview with CITE.

Masaraure said such tactics by the government were futile, as the school heads supposed to be reporting teachers were in the same predicament.

“Their efforts to have headmasters and headmistresses submit names of teachers who are not coming to work will be in vain because those same people are not paid and they are also not working. So at the end of the day, the ‘no work, no pay’ strategy is not working,” he said.

“This circular is just a confirmation just as we have consistently said that teachers are not working until the value of their salaries is restored to pre October 2018. We celebrate such circulars because they are testimony of the impact of our job action, our incapacitation declaration where we said, ‘ teachers should only report for duty once a week.’

The ARTUZ leader noted teachers were no longer moved by the numerous threats.

“Because ordinarily they are not being paid. They are getting peanuts. Such empty threats will not move anyone. Teachers will only return to the classroom and fully execute their mandate if their salaries are restored to the pre-October 2018 value,” Masaraure said.

“All civil servants are defying and that’s enough resistance to this move.”

Teachers received their salaries on Monday, and teacher organisations indicate their anger is palpable.

“Morale is very low and as usual our learners are losing out on the right to education. The Union is organising ‘Salary indabas’ nationwide to consult teachers on way forward,” said ARTUZ while the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) added, “We know that ranks naturally affect remuneration, but the fact that people deciding that teachers should live perpetually on a starvation salary of $25 000 themselves take home about 10 times that, is nauseating and evil. Adjust our salaries and peg them to the USD.”

CITE spoke to some headmasters of schools in Bulawayo who said threatening teachers was not the best way to address civil servants’ grievances.

“It’s outright stupid and a poor attempt at trying to please (President Emmerson) Mnangagwa by whoever is responsible for the ill-informed commandist and dictatorial approach to a straightforward challenge of pay-the-teachers-their-US$540-plus-meaningful salaries and working conditions. Mnangagwa needs to be told the truth, teachers are earning slave wages and most are near destitute and paupers,” said one headmaster who could not be named for ethical reasons.

“Teachers are starving in schools!”

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