TEACHERS are headed for a clash with government after the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) yesterday officially declared they would down tools when schools open in a couple of weeks to press for an increase of their salaries and allowances and the revocation of the new curriculum.
The declaration, endorsed by all 10 provinces, was signed by Zimta president Richard Gundane and secretary-general Tapson Nganunu Sibanda in Victoria Falls at the end of the association’s 37th annual national conference.
Zimta said the strike was in accordance with the section 65(3) of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to collective job action, fair and safe labour practices and fair standard wages.
“Now, therefore, the 37th annual national conference of the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association do, hereby, declare that schools will not open for the second term of 2018 and for the avoidance of doubt, our members will be on strike and will withdraw their labour effective May 8 until the issues raised herein above are resolved,” Sibanda declared.
Teachers at the conference said government had failed to meet their demands and that of pupils.
“This is the beginning of a long struggle which seeks to emancipate us as workers of the government,” one teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
“The government has no will to do collective bargaining with us and set up a correct bargaining system. For many years, we have asked them to introduce bargaining chambers that suit our system. We had an agreement that was put in place for allowances and salary increment and government has not attended to that since 2013. We say enough is enough,” Zimta Matabeleland South provincial chair Akuneni Maphosa said.
He said the new curriculum had to be withdrawn or redone, as it was riddled with errors.
Another teacher said: “Vacation leave is a major condition of service that was taken away from us. Therefore, we are claiming it back. We need time to rest. Since 2016, we have not gone for leave because they say they have no money to pay stand-in teachers.”
The job action threat comes after doctors and nurses at public health institutions downed tools, demanding better worker conditions and wages.
The strike crippled the health delivery system, leaving thousands of patients stranded. This resulted in Vice President Chiwenga moving swiftly to dismiss all striking nurses after they refused to return to work even though the employer had acceded to their demands and availed over $17 million.
Vice President General Constantino Chiwenga (Retired) – in his capacity as the supervisor of the social services cluster – said the behaviour by the nurses was politically motivated.
The majority of nurses who were dismissed have since reapplied for reengagement and government has permitted them to resume duty pending final approval from the employer.