Defiant teachers have ganged up against government, declaring that they will not be intimidated, following threats that those who will down tools will be dismissed the same way nurses were.
In recent days, government fired nurses that embarked on job action demanding better remuneration and working conditions.
Primary and Secondary Education minister Paul Mavima has said government would deal with any striking teachers in the same way.
However, various teacher organisations — including the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta), Amalgamated Rural Teachers Association (Artuz) and the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) — have responded vowing to go ahead with the strike.
The move may spell disaster for the schools’ new term set to begin on May 8.
In a statement yesterday, Zimta — the country’s biggest teacher representative organisation — vowed to proceed with its planned nationwide strike starting next term, if government fails to meet their demands for a pay hike and a review of rural-based educators’ allowances.
“Zimta hereby categorically states that no amount of threats or illegal declarations from individuals in government will intimidate teachers from exercising their constitutional and legal right to participate in industrial job action,” said the Association.
Since the beginning of the year, there has been unrest in the civil service that saw public hospital doctors and nurses embarking on separate crippling industrial actions.
Government responded with an iron hand inside a velvet glove giving in to the doctors’ demands while at the same time summarily dismissing striking nurses.
Despite government’s pre-emptive strike, PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe has also told the Daily News the newly-formed Federation of Zimbabwe Educators’ Unions (FOZEU) had decided to put government on notice of the impending strike.
“We have since notified government as Fozeu that we will embark on industrial action and we are encouraging all our structures to follow developments closely,” Majongwe said.
“We are elated as this is the time to put our differences aside and put the welfare of the workers as a priority because this government has proved that they have no plan for the workers at all.
“The militaristic response given to the nurses’ strike is a lesson for all of us as we are clearly being shown that our concerns and welfare mean nothing to them. An injury to one is an injury to all; therefore, we must unite lest we perish.
“The teachers are next in line; they have silently threatened us already. They have shown us they are merciless and brutal,” he said.
In a PTUZ statement ahead of yesterday’s Workers Day celebrations, Majongwe slammed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government for being insincere about collective bargaining.
He said teachers were not happy with Mnangagwa’s call to open the country for business while ignoring workers’ plight.
“They now want to allow collective bargaining that they dismissed the striking nurses for. What kind of mischief is this? This is surely some sick joke. We can clearly read this script and template. There is nothing for us without us” he charged.
“We must unite as one big family of workers and defend our turf. Clearly, we are under attack by this new government”.
The country’s teachers earn around $400 per month, which ranks them among the lowest paid civil servants in the country.