HARARE – Teachers’ unions have slammed government over the selective remuneration of its workforce following the controversial awarding of a 400 percent pay hike to the military and police.
Teachers are currently the lowest paid civil servants, earning around ZW$36,000 plus a US$120 foreign currency component.
The selective pay hike for security forces comes as teachers had rejected a 50 percent increase on their local currency wages during the National Joint Negotiating Council meeting last week.
Obert Masaraure, leader of the highly vocal Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) slammed government for selectively applying standards.
“The 50 percent offered to other civil servants including teachers is a joke; unfortunately, we can’t laugh it off because families are starving.
“We will not allow government to discriminate against any section of workers.
“To that end, we shall force the employer to pay teachers a living wage. US$1,260 is the minimum demand from teachers.
“Soldiers have guns but we have our collective force as workers.
“The government is warned not to keep on stretching our patience. They will be faced with a tsunami of workers’ protests,” said Masaraure.
Raymond Majongwe, secretary general of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), said it was unacceptable that teachers got the short straw in terms of salary negotiations while they were facing the same economic challenges as members of the army and police.
“We don’t challenge that soldiers have been paid, we celebrate that at least somebody has realised that soldiers are being underpaid but then why then cherry-pick and choose soldiers over the teachers; why not give us the same.
“Remember in the past, teachers were the first to be paid. They have turned it around.
“They have paid the soldiers first, they have paid the police, they have paid the nurses and teachers who come last in that rank and file. That is unacceptable,” said Majongwe.
Zimbabwe Congress Of Public Sector Trade Unions (ZCPSTU), organizing secretary, Charles Chinosengwa described government’s selective awarding of 400% wage increase to security forces as a futile divide and rule tactic capable of bringing ruin to the education sector.
“As teachers, we say the government’s divide rule won’t work.
“They are killing the education sector and Zimbabwean education teachers will give them half-baked learners.
“As teachers, we remain incapacitated and report for work two to three days per week, while waiting for bigger action,” said Chinosengwa.
The government’s decision to award soldiers and police 400% wage increase is seen as an attempt to keep the loyalty of the security forces commonly used as the last line of defence against a government that faces public anger over a slew of failures.