Teachers demand $3,000 salary or schools won’t open next week
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TEACHERS yesterday warned that a strike was inevitable when schools open next week unless the government act fast to meet their demands to raise salaries from the current $500 to $3 000 per month among other demands.
This comes as doctors yesterday rejected government pleas to go back to work, saying they will on the 4th of January carry out a massive demonstration in a bid to exert more pressure on Government to act on their grievances.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general, Raymond Majongwe said yesterday that they were still waiting for a positive response to their petition, which they presented to President Emmerson Mnangagwa at a meeting last month.
“Schools will not open if the demands we put forward to the government are not met. What they should understand is that I represent the teachers and this is what they are saying. They (teachers) don’t have the money to even report for duty,” Majongwe said.
“Prices of basic goods have gone up, bus fares have gone up and the salaries have not gone up. Government should act fast before schools open.”
In the petition presented to Mnangagwa, teachers also said they wanted payment for invigilating Grade Seven examinations as well as the introduction of special teacher allowances among many other demands.
According to Majongwe, Mnangagwa pledged to look into the issues before making a formal response.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive Sifiso Ndlovu said the 3 000 teachers which government want to employ were too few considering that at least 20 000 new educators were needed to fill the existing gaps.
“Teachers must be employed as this is the right thing to do, but the figure is too low. There is very little excitement about this figure. We have a shortage of 19 000 teachers who need to be replaced according to the new curriculum. The pupil to teacher ratio is at 1:70 and sometimes goes up to 1: 101 in worst case scenarios. If we look at the budget it was not increased and is at a standstill,’’ Ndlovu said.
He said the teacher to pupil ratio must be reduced to 1:25 at infant, 1:30 at junior level.
The government on Monday announced that it will from tomorrow up to Thursday recruit 3 000 teachers in a bid to improve the teacher to pupil ratio as it moves to enhance the quality of education in schools.
Meanwhile, negotiations between health workers and Government yesterday failed to lure striking doctors back to work as they insisted on their demands despite the employer offering to review their allowances in the first quarter of the year.
Government had offered to review health workers’ allowances in April 2019 together with those of the rest of the other civil servants.
It also assured the health workers that the remaining $6 million vehicle loan scheme coupled with a duty- free facility would be availed by end of day yesterday.
However, the duty-free facility would only benefit those who accessed the loan facility.
“We are not happy at all with this arrangement. We had asked for a duty-free facility to cater for all our members. Government wants to provide itto those who will benefit from the vehicle loan scheme only,” said ZHDA in a statement released last night after the bipartite negotiating forum.
Government also promised to avail $10 million for the creation of 402 new posts for the entire health sector, committed to continue improving the drug and equipment situation in hospitals and said working hours were still under evaluation and standardisation.
It also said the proposed contracts for incoming junior resident medical officers would be done in consultation with all relevant stakeholders.
However, the doctors refused to take up the offer arguing that it was a bad one.
“For the whole month, the Health Services Board (HSB) has invested all its energy on dragging ZDHA to court and firing our members,” read part of the statement.
“They completely forgot to answer matters raised by doctors for the whole month. They have shown no sense of urgency at all in restoring normalcy in hospitals.”
According to ZHDA, Government assured them that $2,2 million worth of medicines were stored at the National Pharmaceutical Company and in the process of being distributed to different Government hospitals. It also said funds for hospital equipment had also been availed but the situation in hospitals would take time to improve.
On salaries, the ZHDA said Government reiterated that it was not feasible to pay them in United States dollars since 99 percent of its revenue was in RTGS.
“We have repeatedly asked the Ministry of Health and Child Care to honour the collective bargaining agreement by paying 100 percent of our salaries in foreign currency as agreed. The Government continues to ignore our call citing a litany of excuses,” said ZHDA.
Earlier on, the junior doctors’ bid to have their urgent application seeking leave to appeal against the Labour Court ruling declaring their strike illegal flopped.
The Labour Court ruled that the application was not urgent. “We went to the Labour Court today seeking leave to appeal in an application that was brought under a certificate of urgency. The court deemed our application not urgent enough and it will now be brought to court as a normal court application,” said their lawyer, Mr Munyaradzi Gwisai.