Teachers vow to go on a three-day strike beginning Wednesday

The Federation of Zimbabwe Educators (FOZEU), a collective of ‘radical’ teachers unions, is calling on all teachers to take part in a three-day work action beginning this Wednesday in response to the government’s US$20 wage increase last week.

FOZEU denounced the US$20 as a “mockery” and announced a three-day job strike, advising parents and guardians to keep their children at home for their protection.

This job action came after the government awarded civil servants a cost-of-living adjustment of $20 on March 14, 2024, raising their monthly pay to US$320 from $300. 

The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, as a user of teacher services, says it is willing to engage FOZEU to come up with “mutually agreeable solutions” to prevent the strike from taking place.

However, FOZEU’s information department said over 55 000 teachers consented for the strike to take place.

“Following the conclusion of consulting teachers on a flight back strategy in the face of the mockery of a US$20 increment we update our constituency as follows: A total of 56 700 teachers were consulted both offline and online. 55 200  of the consulted teachers asked FOZEU to call a job action before schools close and mobilise for an indefinite national strike when schools open for second term,” said the collective union in a statement.

FOZEU said some of the grievances which came from the teachers during their consultations  included incapacity to pay examination fees for children due to inadequate salaries.

“This is ironic for teachers who work to prepare children for examinations whilst their own children fail to sit for the same  examinations,” FOZEU said.

“The federation hereby declares that no teacher should report for duty from Wednesday, 20 March 2024 to Friday, 22 March 2024.” 

The collective union said the mass action should also be escalated as the second term opens until the government pays a living wage. 

“FOZEU leader to engage other progressive Unions in the civil service seeking collaborations in the fight for a living wage, said the FOZEU which also demanded that deadlines for registration for sitting for public examination be extended until “the salary crisis is resolved.”

FOZEU stated it was ready to provide legal assistance to all teachers who may face victimisation during the coming job action.

“ This federation calls upon teachers to mobilise each other at classroom level to make this action a success.  The employer has to be forced to pay a living wage of US$1 260 teachers are encouraged to seize this opportunity to apply pressure on the employer by completely  withdrawing labour. The constitution of Zimbabwe provides for the rights to strike and picket,” said the collective union.

Penga Mushandi. Hlanya Sisebezi. Sifunukudlalathi. No pay, no work!”

When reached for a comment, Director of communications and advocacy in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Taungana Ndoro, said the ministry continues to prioritise open communication and seek resolutions to make sure there is continuity of education for all its pupils.

“I don’t know if the strike will be successful but as a ministry we will continue conducting negotiations as the user ministry of teachers’ services as we aim to address concerns raised by teachers, especially those within our mandate,” Ndoro told CITE.

“We will work towards finding mutually agreeable solutions for the provision of quality education for our nation.”

The education spokesperson said the ministry would engage FOZEU immediately.

“Yes definitely,  even tonight. We don’t sleep. We  will contact them as of this evening, tomorrow and so forth to make sure there are mutually agreeable solutions for the provision of quality education,” Ndoro said.

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