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Unions claims 60% of teachers stayed home on first day of school re-opening

by Staff reporter
29 Sep 2020 at 18:26hrs | Views
Unions said 60 percent of their members boycotted classes, angry over low pay and concerns over the provision of personal protective clothing to keep them safe from the coronavirus.

"Today we had the biggest labour boycott since 2008. While the government was claiming it was business as usual in schools, we saw the opposite," the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe said in a statement.

"Sixty percent of the teachers stayed home. Z$3,500 (about US$42) per month for a teacher is not enough. We need real money for real work,"

Teachers are demanding wage rises and salaries in U.S. dollars to cope with soaring inflation of over 700 percent. The economic crisis has stoked anger against President Emmerson Mnangagwa who took power in a 2017 military coup while promising to uplift livelihoods.

Over the weekend, the government through the Public Service Commission said it would pay public sector workers a cost of living adjustment on October 2, although the size of the adjustment was not quantified.

"The best negotiation is for teachers to stay in their homes until the government restores the purchasing power parity of teachers' salaries," PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou said.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions president Peter Mutasa, in a statement on Monday, warned that Zimbabwe would "lose a generation because of this crisis."

"Today the majority of our teachers did not report for work. They want to go to work; they love their jobs and love our kids but they're starving. Their kids aren't able to go to school, their kids aren't well-fed, they can't afford clothing for them to stand in front of our kids properly dressed. They're earning nothing," Mutasa said.

"Who is losing out? It's ordinary Zimbabweans. Our kids aren't going to get the necessary education that they should get. They're going to be pushed to the next grade without sufficient foundation. We're going to lose a generation because of this crisis."

Schools are re-opening for the first time since March when the government declared a nationwide lockdown in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Unions had wanted the school year to be written off, but the government says Grade 7, Form 4 and Upper Sixth pupils must graduate this year.

Only pupils from the most wealthy families - those sending their children to private schools or with access to the internet - would have received any online lessons over the past months.

Zimbabwe has over 100,000 teachers in just over 9,000 schools. Unions are demanding monthly pay to be a minimum US$520 (Z$42,488), but the broke government says it cannot afford.

Other schools classes will re-open on October 26 and November 9 as Zimbabwe gradually lifts restrictions following a decline in Covid-19 cases. The virus has so far killed at least 227 people from 7,787 infections.

Source - zimlive