Thousands Of Teachers Stay Away From Work As Schools Open
30 September 2020

Paul Nyathi

Obert Masaraure

Teacher unions in Zimbabwe have indicated that most of their members have not reported for duty since Monday when schools reopened due to some contentious issues with their employer, the goverment.

The schools were shut down in March due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Government had set September 14 and Sept. 28 as the opening dates for British-run Cambridge and locally run Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) examination classes respectively.

It also set Dec. 1, 2020, as the date for commencement of ZIMSEC public examinations.

Private Schools offering Cambridge examinations, commenced classes smoothly last week.

In a joint statement last week, the teacher unions requested for an urgent meeting with government to resolve contentious issues before schools reopen but the effort failed.

The teacher unions demanded restoration of their salaries to US$520 per month, payment of a COVID-19 allowance and more time for teachers and learners to cover syllabi before examinations, among other demands.

Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) president Obert Masaraure revealed that schools in Matabeleland North, Mashonaland East and Matabeleland South were most affected with urban schools reportedly experiencing better attendance by both teachers and learners.

“It is official; no learning is taking place nationwide on day two of schools opening,” Masaraure said.

“Teachers are severely incapacitated and continue to withdraw their labour. Learners are ill equipped for the learning season.”

Masaure added, “Members of ARTUZ took heed of the call for the job action on the second day of schools opening.

“We also congratulate sister unions who are continuously mobilising their members for action. Our efforts are not in vain. The workers will be free.”

The union leader urged government to urgently resolve the salary dispute through payment of US$520 minimum monthly wages as was being demanded by the educators.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou also said more of their members were not reporting for duty.

“Most teachers who reported for duty yesterday did not do so today (Tuesday).

“Several pupils did not go to school today after realising the futility of reporting to school where there are no teachers.

“Teachers’ anger has also been exacerbated by reports that the government is preparing to give soldiers double the Cost of Living Adjustment that would be given to teachers.

“Teachers are increasingly being embittered by the government’s intransigent and irresponsible approach.

“They are more and more determined to forge on with an incapacitation struggle in order to demand a living wage pegged at US$520-US$550. It’s game on and there will be no surrender until final victory,” Zhou said.