ARTUZ Members Unsanctioned Salary Stoppages Worrisome

ARTUZ has noted with concern rising cases of cessation of its member’s salaries on flimsy charges without due process being followed.

We note that School Heads are making determinations on these cases without following standard disciplinary procedures. The teachers are not afforded a chance to defend themselves. This is a violation of their right to a fair hearing. The circular which empowers school heads to cease salaries after 14 days violates workers’ rights and violation of labour laws.

According to our lawyer, Hopewell Chitima, the cessations constitute double punishment. He said a teacher is punished before conviction and after. A teacher’s salary is ceased by a Head without being afforded a fair hearing, also a violation and punishment. By ceasing a salary the teacher is deprived property which is constituted by a salary.

According to labour statutes, procedural fairness regarded as the “rights” of the worker in respect of the actual procedure to be followed during the process of discipline or dismissal was not attained. It is concerned with the procedures used by a decision-maker, rather than the actual outcome reached. For example, the right to be assisted by workers representatives or other employee during the proceedings or legal practitioner (if the registered code allows).

The employer must inform the employee of a decision regarding a disciplinary sanction in writing in a manner that the employee can understand.

They must also give clear reasons for dismissing the employee and keep records of disciplinary actions taken against each employee, stating the nature of grievances. We feel in the cases that we have received not procedural fairness was followed.

“We will be approaching the courts soon challenging this cessation of salary,” said Chitima.

Two cases came to light this week. A female teacher stationed at a primary school in Hwange, Matabeleland North received a letter from the Head stating that her salary was being stopped because she had been away from work for 14 consecutive days. A fact she denied because she had reported to the station once during the said days. The teacher was away from school because of incapacitation. She could not afford to feed, clothe and transport herself to school.

The teacher also an ARTUZ Secretary for Sports and Recreation said, “I have two young children and my sister that I take care of. I have since approached my union to assist me in handling the matter. As a woman this victimisation has grossly affected me. Besides that I already have to deal with the maternity penalty (difficulties associated with motherhood) I now face the gruesome task of endless consultations and I have been struggling all this while on a meagre salary. This victimisation has worsened my situation.”

In another case a male teacher in Hurungwe district, Mashonaland West did not receive his December and January salaries. The district Human Resources Officer said SSB had not processed his forms. He was on sick leave from the 9th of September 2019 to the 3rd of December 2019. He also went on an indefinite leave which was supposed to end on 8th of December 2019.

The male teacher said, “I am feeling it is an act of victimisation because my case was clear. I am an active member of ARTUZ. This cessation means I will not get a cushion or anything. Just imagine the degree of incapacitation, I have to hustle hard to make ends meet.”

ARTUZ will soon approach the courts to challenge these salary cessations.

Source: Amalgamated Rural Teacher Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ)

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