Major Teachers Unions To Join Friday Industrial Action

Leading teachers’ unions have vowed to press ahead with this week’s strike, with Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general Raymond Majongwe insisting the government must pay their salaries in US dollars to cushion them from the rising cost of living as the surrogate Bond Notes and RTGS currencies continue to plunge in value.

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“Our message to government is: If you are going to pay us RTGS salaries, how are we going to pay for medicines and drugs with pharmacies demanding US dollars? When this government came to power, they never told us that they would fail to pay as a decent salary,” Majongwe said in an interview.

The union plans to stage a march in Harare this Friday, and has received the backing from the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) who indicated that industrial action will actually start this Thursday.

“Our (demonstration) must be a resounding success and we urge our members to fully support our 9 November Harare march,” said Majongwe.

He added: “As workers, we are not going to be cowed or intimidated. We have genuine demands that must be addressed. How does the teacher afford to go to work in good health when he or she cannot afford to buy their own food and their own medicine because the prices are in US dollars while the salaries are in RTGS?”

Mr Majongwe dismissed the government position that Treasury has no fiscal space to afford a salary raise. Primary and Secondary Education Minister Paul Mavima recently told hundreds of primary school heads in Victoria Falls that the administration had no means to meet the teachers’ pay increment demands. Majongwe said teachers are suffering and cannot buy that excuse.

“It’s not the business of employees to tell the employer where to get the money. As far as we are concerned, our government has money for our salaries. I am surprised when people tell me that the government is broke.

“You look at how this government is spending money, you can see that they can afford our salaries and our little bonuses. The level of opulence and extravagance in government is unparalleled, so as teachers we believe they can manage our bonus and we
Meanwhile, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) has indicated that industrial action will start this Thursday, 8 November.

“ARTUZ and other revolutionary teachers will embark on second phase of our planned job actions this week on the 8th and 9th of November we are once again withdrawing our labour in protest against underpayment,” the union said in a statement.

“We demand our salaries in US dollars as negotiated as agreed in 2012. We note the arrogance of the employer who has given a deaf ear to our noble call for conditions of living adjustment to our salaries.

“It is our deep-rooted conviction that our series of protests will eventually melt the (government’s) cold arrogance and our salaries will be paid in US dollars is certain.”

ARTUZ has also thrown its weight behind the Harare march by PTUZ.

Government health workers have also made similar demands to be paid in US dollars, increasing the pressure on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration.

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