“It’s Not About Regime Change, But Our Living Wage”: Rural Teachers Tell Govt

ARTUZ Strike update.

The Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, ARTUZ welcomes all sister teacher Unions for finally coming on board on the ongoing job action for a living wage.

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We reiterate our call for salaries in United States dollars. We encourage all teachers to take heed of the ongoing job action as we demand a comprehensive Conditions of Living Adjustment, COLA.

Background

Teachers’ basic salaries were last reviewed in 2012 and by then the salaries were negotiated in United States dollars. Over the years the cost of living has soared with prices of basic services and commodities increasing at a cumulative rate of over 500%.

The government has also reneged on the agreement to pay salaries in United State States dollars and they are now paying in the Real Time Gross Settlement terms. The surrogate currency is performing badly on the market and this has heavily eroded the value of our salaries. The average teacher earns around US$120 per month.

ARTUZ has been consistently demanding a living wage from the pockets out a campaign of 2017, the salary caravan from Mutare to Harare launched on the 9th of December 2018 and the Salary Camp at Finance Ministry from 7 to 11 January. The Union of the moment also boldly participated in the National Stay away held from 14 to 16 January 2019.

The Union’s membership has demonstrated unwavering revolutionary character by participating in these campaigns and sustaining the ongoing job action.

State Response.

ARTUZ condemns the dastardly, cowardly and barbaric response of the State to our legitimate call for an upward review of our salaries. The State arrested and detained our members who were participating in the Salary Caravan March from Harare to Mutare, a distance of 275Km.

These members were arrested twice for trumped-up charges of disorderly conduct. We salute the participants for remaining resolute and concluding the march against all odds.

The State was at it again on 7 January 2019 when the Union launched the salary camp in Africa Unity Square. 14 members of the Union were arrested but the State could not lay any charges against the teachers.

After the successful National Stay the State abducted, tortured and arbitrarily detained the Union’s President and Secretary General. The duo is still appearing in court facing charges ranging from assault to subverting a constitutionally elected government. We pray for justice for these leaders who spent up to 16 days in confinement and were only released under stringent bail conditions.

The government offered a cushioning allowance of around US$15 which falls far short of our expectations.

Way forward.

The Union encourages all teachers to continue withdrawing their labor. The Union’s decision-making body will meet on Saturday 9 February 2019 to evaluate the job action. The meeting will come up with other tactics aimed at compelling our employer to award a COLA.

We encourage Un-Unionized teachers to seize this opportunity and join the Union of the moment so that we speak with one voice. Our Union is providing legal cover to all teachers who will be victimized during this job action. We urge teachers to promptly report victimization to the details captured at the foot of this statement.

ARTUZ is a nonpartisan Union with no intention to capture state power. We note with disgust that the State has labeled us an agent of regime change. Our hands are clean and our intentions are pure, we demand a living wage!

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