The over 5 000 members of Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, ARTUZ have unanimously resolved to desist from reporting for duty until the salary dispute is fixed. The teachers are severely incapacitated since they are earning an equivalent of US $ 35 per month. The proposed increment by government falls way below the legitimate expectations of the hard working teachers. Teachers are demanding a United States dollar interbank rate indexed salaries.
The 97% offer by government comes at a time when government services have been hiked by over 500%. Government is even charging some of its services in United States dollars, for example an emergency passport fee of US$318 from RTGS$ 318. We are simply asking to be accommodated into the national economy.
Government last paid teachers a full salary in September 2018, we have been earning 7% of the last negotiated income. Attempts to engage the government have been futile since then. Employer has been calling for endless pity parties which have not yielded any positive result. Countless petitions have been submitted but no favorable response has been received as yet.
An ordinary teacher salary cannot fend for food, shelter, transport, education and health care. Teachers cannot afford transport to go back to work. Our members stationed at far flung schools like Gokwe but domiciled in Manicaland for example cannot make it back to work under these circumstances. Such a member would fork out RTGS$ 700 for transport alone.
School fees are now beyond the reach of teachers and teachers cannot afford the service they provide. It is rumored that parents are now incentivizing teachers to report for duty, it should be noted that rural communities cannot afford to pay these incentives. The responsibility for providing education solely lies on the shoulders of government, other actors can only play a supporting role.
Our recently convened congress resolved to deploy our leadership to engage the Joint Operations Command, (JOC) to avert the victimization of teachers by state agents. We warn government and school administrators to refrain from the sick culture of targeting teachers who are tabling genuine labour grievances. We will pursue all remedies to put an end to this debauchery.
We encourage government to urgently pay teachers a living wage to save our education from collapse. The pursuit of Sustainable Development Goals is derailed by the underfunding of critical sectors like education. Teachers will not pretend to be teaching under these untenable conditions lest we hazard destroying the future of our learners and our nation. The drop in 2019 grade 7 pass rates is a clear testimony of erosion of the quality of our education.
We call upon like-minded sister unions and the broader working class to join this noble fight aimed at rescuing our education. Parents are encouraged to keep their children at home, there will be no teachers to attend to the learners at school.
Source: Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ)