Teachers announce plans to embark on strike on opening day

By Lizwe Sebatha

THE Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) has given notice to embark on an industrial action on Monday protesting poor pay, a day when schools are supposed to reopen for the third term.

Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced in a post Cabinet brief on Wednesday that final examination classes will resume lessons on Monday, with the rest of the learners joining a week later on September 6.

Schools have been closed since June 4.

ARTUZ president Obert Masaraure, however, denounced government for rushing to open schools without first engaging teachers who have been pressing for a US$450 living wage or the equivalent in the domestic currency.

“Teachers, therefore, remain severely incapacitated. Teachers can’t afford to pay tuition fees for their own children let alone travel back to work,” Masaraure said in a statement.

“Monday  30 August 2021 is therefore hereby declared as the day of national action to demand the right to education as set out in section 75 of the constitution. Citizens are invited to join our nationwide protests set for * Monday 30 August 2021.* Let’s put our government to task and demand quality education for our 5 million learners.”

In 2020 Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Professor Paul Mavima announced that by January 2021 government would have produced a roadmap towards the restoration of pre-October 2018 salaries for teachers. 

“To date, no roadmap has been shared. Government has only resorted to adjusting salaries in line with inflation. The same value of low salaries has been maintained under the guise of increments,” Masaraure added. 

In April, teachers were also on strike demanding better wages despite threats by government to dock or withhold their pay under a “no-work-no pay principle.”

Government has said ZWL$ 500 million has been set aside for safe schools opening. 

But Masaraure said the money is inadequate.

“This translates to ZW$ 100 per learner. Almost USD 0.75 cents. This is inadequate for funding adherence to Standard Operating Procedures in schools. Government should deploy enough resources for safe schools opening,” he said.

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