One of the leading teachers group, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Sunday warned the government that any attempt to fast track the opening of schools without addressing the recently introduced salary discrepancies and restoring the purchasing power parity of teachers’ salaries will be met by an equal and opposing force, midlands news can reveal.
PTUZ President, Dr Takavafira Zhou said the union was worried by the government’ unwillingness to engage the teachers on the issue of their welfare, which he described as long overdue.
”We note with concern from various reports that dates for reopening of schools will be announced by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Cain Matema, this week. It is sad that such a enunciation would be made without engaging teacher unions.
”While we appreciate coverage of provision of covid abatement equipment before opening of schools including testing kits and other PPEs, we are worried that the issue of welfare of teachers has been conspicuous by its absence from reports.
”We hereby reiterate that other than meeting the health and safety of teachers and pupils, welfare issues must be high on the agenda”, said Dr Zhou.
He added that it is the position of teachers in Zimbabwe that no school would open without the government having addressed the recently introduced salary discrepancies and restoring the purchasing power parity of teachers’ salaries.
”Teachers unequivocally, unreservedly and unanimously call for the restoration of their October 2018 salaries pegged at US$550. Any attempt to fast track the opening of schools without addressing this crucial issue will be met by an equal and opposing force in line with Isaac Newton’s law of motion”, said Zhou.
Dr Zhou said that teachers have also resolved that they would not mark June examinations unless the issue of their salaries is resolved.
He said that it is the PUTZ’ hope that government will engage teachers in order to find a win-win solution to the quandary of reopening schools.
”Whatever the case would be, there is no doubt that the pre-conditionalities of opening schools are multi-dimensional, involving health, safety and welfare issues. There would be no compromise whatsoever over such crucial issues”, said the union President.
The government, Saturday said that the ministry of education has concluded consultations with all key stakeholders and is expected to announce the date of the opening of schools anytime this coming week.
Despite the government denial last week that schools would open in September, both the ministry of education and Zimsec issued statements over the weekend saying schools were likely to open in September.
midlandsnews was first to report that schools were likely to open for examination classes only in September much to the denial of the government.