By Edward Mukaro
THE Zimbabwe Congress for Trade Unions (ZCTU) has labelled Government as naïve, heartless as authorities announced the new basic teacher salary package of ZW$18 237 and a basic 10% risk allowance.
Since the relaxation of the lockdown by Government and the subsequent reopening of schools, authorities have largely failed to agree with teachers on an attractive package leading to teachers absconding lessons. School children have been attending school, but erratically as teachers continue to defy government.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The BusinessConnect, ZCTU president Peter Mutasa described the government as offering a heartless deal for workers and such would not lead to teachers reporting for duty until their demands are met.
“That salary is far below what teachers are demanding and we do not see how it can change their fortunes. The government is being naïve, heartless and violating the right to education. Prices of goods and services are going up every month in both USD and ZWL$. The salary of ZWL$18 000 cannot buy just sufficient food for a month for a teacher.
“We hear teachers have vowed not to go back to work until they get their USD salaries restored to October 2018 levels. We support that position and urge parents and all citizens to also support teachers while petitioning the government to address the crisis,” said Mutasa.
He added that an increment in ZWL$ terms will not improve the welfare of the teacher in any way, but only through USD salaries can the plight of teachers be addressed, before adding that his union is already mobilizing workers for a general strike to demand decent wages.
“We hear teachers have vowed not to go back to work until they get their USD salaries restored to October 2018 levels. We support that position and urge parents and all citizens to also support teachers while petitioning the government to address the crisis.
“We are mobilizing all other workers for a general strike. There is no reason why all workers must continue to wallow in poverty while the ruling elites are pillaging the national resources. The country can pay decent wages if the ruling class stops corruption and illicit financial outflows and other vices,” he added.
Government recently moved to pacify defiant teachers who have been reluctant to return to their workstations by offering a 40% salary increment for all civil servants and a 10% risk allowance for teachers.
Ever since schools reopened, during the three-tier phases introduced by Government, a sizeable number of teachers have remained adamant and absconded duty by staying at home, as advised by their teachers’ union.
“Noting its obligations to pay a decent wage, Government has reviewed upwards the salary increase to offer civil servants to 40%, which will be awarded to deputy director grade and below.
“The new basic salary package for the teacher is now ZW$18 237, which above the Poverty Datum Line (PDL). This means that the compounded review percentage of the teacher grade salary is 1 284% since the beginning of the year,” a recent Cabinet Briefing report said.
By Edward Mukaro