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Teacher unions threaten strike over ‘meagre’ salaries

The Amalgamated Rural Teachers` Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) has threatened to embark on another industrial action if the government does not urgently address the working conditions for civil servants.

ARTUZ gave the government until the end of May and warned that if their needs are not met they will embark on a fully fledged strike from June 3 and June 5.

The country is currently faced with a serious economic crisis that has seen the cost of living spiralling beyond the reach of many.

In an interview with CITE, ARTUZ national secretary general Robson Jere said the government has failed to honour its promise to review teachers’ salaries.

“The government has failed to honour its promise to us. We have tried to engage it (government) at all levels but they have proved to be adamant. For a very long time we have sent several correspondents but to no avail,” said Jere.

“As a union, we have decided that we will engage in industrial action. We have been on a sit-in since schools opened,” he said.

Jere said according to the government rates, their salary is equivalent to US$80 which is not enough for them to afford basic commodities.

“The government itself introduced rates and that shows they appreciate the fact that the USD and bond notes are not at par. Our salaries right now are equivalent to about US$80. As it stands teachers cannot even afford basic commodities. It seems the government only understand the language of aggression,” he said.

“We have extended this invitation to all teachers’ associations. We are not scared to engage in this stay-away since all that we are doing is above board. Any threats from the government to punish our members would result in us dragging them to court. We are simply exercising our constitutional right by so doing. Our members deserve better than what the government is offering.”

Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Dr Takavafira Zhou told CITE their members, due to the ever-escalating inflation, deserve the United States Dollar based salaries and a rescue package.

“We have petitioned the government to pay in USD and to award a rescue package by June month end, failure to this we will engage in industrial action,” he said.

“The main challenge we are facing is the relevant authorities are very evasive. Whenever we engage them they rush to make promises they never fulfil,” said Dr Zhou.

“Our primary concern right now is that teachers be given salaries in USD. The minister of finance himself and the rest of the government openly acknowledged that the USD and the bond note are not at par, due to that alone they need to realise the plight of the teachers and give our salaries in a currency that will enable us to afford basics.”

 

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