Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), has said that teachers were unlikely to report for duty when schools open on September 28 due to incapacitation and government’ lack of preparedness towards the fight against Covid 19 in schools, midlands news can reveal.
In a statement PTUZ President, Dr Takavafira Zhou, said teachers were demanding an improvement in condition of service before schools opening
”Government has overstreached teachers’ patience and elasticity that has now reached a breaking point. Only a few days before public schools open, there is no clarity over improvement of salaries and conditions of service.
”What is inherently clear is that teachers have all tested positive to poverty and unless there is a concerted effort to address this long standing issue, teachers would be incapacited to report for work on September 28.
”Yet sound as this appears, government has been prevaricating since its flitation with moribund, obsolete and archaic Apex Council in Victoria Falls in February 2020. Worse still Apex Council’s unprocedural extension of mandate has even expired, but government is still closeted to romance with it for fire fighting escapades instead of addressing the plight of teachers”, said Dr Zhou further accusing the government of taking teachers as if they are of no account.
Dr Zhou accused the government of being arrogant to the extent of introducing discrepancies among its employees with effect from June 2020 under what Presidential spokesperson, George Charamba, called presidential prerogative.
The PTUZ President said that the presidential prerogative is at best a fantasy and at worst a dangerous threat to security of the country and teaching profession.
”Teachers’ salaries have remained pegged at $3800 to $4500 at a time when sectors that hitherto earned less than teachers incresed to $8000-$19000 and $9000-$20 000.
”Government salaries are determined by qualifications, years of experience, responsibility and promotion. It is puzzling that the qualifications, responsibility, promotions and years of experience of teachers have suddenly been rendered useless by the new dispensation.
”Teachers will certainly not accept a new dispensation of excessive poverty and penury, let alone their fall with monotonous regularity from grace to grass”, he said.
Dr Zhou said it was painful for teachers to continue to receive starvation wages at a time the government is declaring surplus as expressed by Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube.
Meanwhile PTUZ has said that schools are still to receive funds from the government towards purchasing of Covid 19 prevention instruments and materials and teachers were not in position to risk their lives come September 28 when schools are expected to open.
”There is virtually nothing that reflect prioritisation of teachers and pupils’ health and safety a few days before schools open. As much as government claims to have released more than $600 million, that money has not filtered to schools with zero budget balances that have crippled any meaningful preparation for reopening by the 28th of September.
”It is also clear that the government is trying to evade the testing of over one million students who are candidates, 136 000 teachers and 50 000 ancillary staff. Neither has government acquired Covid abatement equipment (testing kits, thermometers, sanitisers, masks etc), let alone distributed these to nearly 10000 schools”, added Dr Zhou.
He said the government’ homelitic bellicose and rhetoric of preparedness is likely to expose both teachers and students to the vagaries of the deadly pandemic.
”Teachers the time to unite against cold and calculated educational vandalism is now. Now is the time to agree that we may differ ideologically, but must unite in defence of our lives, inalienable dignity, lustre and future of the profession.
”We are in essence arbiters of a nation’s destiny and must therefore play our vital cog of guaranteeing a better future”, he said.
Dr Zhou urged all teachers across the union and non union divide not accept to be treated in a degrading, callous and servitude manner.
He said the teacher’s legitimate battle, must never be politicised as in essence it stems from a monument of Zimbabwean labour injustice.