Unions fume as govt reneges on paying relief teachers 

 Teacher unions have described the proposed plan by the cash-squeezed government to scrap payment for relief teachers as a violation of employee rights. 

This follows a statement issued by the Public Service Commission (PSC) stating that schools have to find alternative ways to cover the vacuum that arises when teachers go on annual leave.  

Previously government would hire relief teachers to cover the gap.  

Zimbabwe Teachers’ Union (ZIMTA) chief-executive officer Dr Sifiso Ndlovu told CITE in an interview by telephone that their organisation will continue to press their employer to fulfill its contractual obligations.  

“We are not happy with the treatment we are getting. The government lost on their quest to do away with our leave days at court,” he said. 

Dr Ndlovu said ZIMTA is aware of plans by government to nullify annual leave for its employees due to financial constraints.  

“Every teacher deserves a three-months leave after seven years. The issue that government is trying to contain its costs should not fall on the teacher. It (government) has no right to dictate to the school administration how teachers must take their leave,” he said. 

Dr Ndlovu implored the government to avail adequate finances towards the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to ensure that pupils attain quality education services.   

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Dr Takavafira Zhou said teachers deserve the same treatment as members of the uniformed forces. 

“Soldiers and police enjoy their leave peacefully. The only problem is with teachers. They must not be treated with discrimination, already they are suffering from depression caused by low salaries,” said Zhou. 

He added: “Another problem is the public service commission sits meetings and makes decisions for teachers without any representatives. This is the source of all the problems. Teacher representatives must be consulted whenever decisions affecting their welfare are discussed.” 

The PSC cited unavailability of funds from the government as the main reason for the development.   

“Please be advised due to financial resource constraints, government at the moment cannot afford to employ replacement teachers when a member proceeds on vacation leave,“ read the statement.   

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