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Uncertainty shrouds schools opening

by Staff reporter
07 Jan 2019 at 20:10hrs | Views
A cloud of uncertainty is hovering over the education sector, amid fears schools might not open tomorrow after teachers vowed not to report for duty until their employer agrees to pay them in United States dollars (USD).

In a statement issued over the weekend, the country's biggest union for the educators, the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta), declared that its members will not go back to work when schools open tomorrow for the first term this year.

Zimta is concerned that government has not addressed any of its grievances despite the numerous engagements they have had in the past.

"Now therefore, given the foregoing, it is thus declared as follows: (a) Our members are unable to report for duty with effect from the 8th of January 2019 due to incapacitation, (b) to enable the teachers to report for work and to subsist, we demand payment of salaries in US dollars," reads part of the statement issued by Zimta.

In justifying the impending work boycott, the association cited what it called the systematic erosion of its members' salaries, the sharp increase in prices of basic commodities and transport fares as well as the fact that some products such as medicines are now being sold in USD when civil servants are being paid through the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system.

All the teachers' unions held a meeting last week where they agreed to down their tools if government fails to take heed of their demand.

The meeting was attended by representatives from Zimta, the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, the Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz), the Zimbabwe Rural Teachers Union and the Zimbabwe Democratic Teachers Union.

According to Artuz, besides demanding for payment in USDs, teachers are also seeking adequate supply of learning material in schools for the new curriculum, payment of the 2018 annual bonus in full as well as the scrapping of a two percent tax on electronic transactions introduced by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube in October last year.

Artuz members are also threatening to besiege the Finance minister's offices today, seeking to push Ncube to accede to their demand for payment of salaries in USDs.

"The incapacitated teachers who will not be able to do work if they are not paid in US dollars will be conducting free lessons in front of Mthuli's offices for the duration of the salary camp," Artuz said, adding that its leadership will also be meeting with Ncube today to deliberate on the issues they need addressed.

Efforts to get a comment from Primary and Secondary Education minister Paul Mavhima could not yield results yesterday.

Teachers and the rest of the civil service have been seething with anger, demanding that President Emmerson Mnangagwa's administration pays their salaries in USDs as the surrogate bond notes and RTGS continue to plunge in value, while prices have shot through the roof.

Teachers including many other Zimbabweans are struggling to make ends meet, owing to creeping inflation and its negative impact on the cost of living.

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Source - dailynews