Genuine Unity of Teacher Unions: The only Way Forward
24 November 2021
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As Ptuz, we want to make it categorically clear without any equivocation or ambiguity that teachers are their own liberators.

Genuine unity of teachers in their diversity is the basis of teachers’ successful struggle for restoration of their status from grass to grace.

Sadly, unity has been evasive because of many fault lines. Teachers are patriotic, but are against a system that impoverishes and incapacitates them.

The gvt has been able to incapacitate teachers because they have accomplices among civil servants working for personal emoluments rather than representing civil servants in the form of the Apex Couuncil.

Genuine representation of civil servants would ensue if gvt and unions leaders focus on legitimate social dialogue and collective bargaining that in turn would enhance industrial harmony and productivity.

Sadly, gvt has reneged on this and allowed PSC to perpetuate unilateralism, one armed banditry and armtwisting Apex Council to even abandon collective begging into useful adjuncts of unfair labour practice focusing largely on pursuit of self egotism.

As Ptuz we call for genuine coalition of teacher unions.

That coalition can never be fronted by faceless free riders.

Our grounded opinion is that free riders are part of the problem and we urge teachers to join unions of their choice.

Every genuine struggle has casualties and we cant join hands with free riders and when there are casualties use money contributed by affiliated teachers to defend non-contributing members.

All teachers in our view must be affiliated to unions of their choice and should there be casualties in the line of our modus operandi, get representation from their respective unions.

Our legitimate struggle has never been closeted to payment of bonus in US$ perse.

We therefore call for genuine unity of purpose of teacher unions to focus on:

1. Restoration of purchasing power parity of teachers’ salaries to US$540 with effect from January 2022.

2. Contractual agreement and payment over invigilation of public examinations

3. Optional GEMS contributions and refund for teachers who have not opted-in for GEMS.

4. Reimbursement of illegal and fraudulent deductions from teachers on the pretext of assumed absentism.

5. Implementation of broad sector specific allowances across the education sector as per our long discussed parameters.

The above would not come on a silver platter but practical commitment to advance the interest of teachers and defend any gains made.

In such practical commitment both leaders and members of the unions must play crucial complementary roles.

At a national level there is need for urgent collective planning, synergies and agreement on an appropriate broad modus operandi.

In schools there is need for members to discuss their plight and mobilise for action. As of now there is consensus on non-invigilation of public examinations unless there is a contractual agreement.

As Ptuz we have written to every office over this, and have also engaged various officials over this which we believe has been the case from other Unions.

It is therefore clear that Unions have been open for engagement, but Zimsec, PSC, and our line Ministry have not been coming with concrete positions.

Unless there is a clear cut offer, teachers’ actions must speak louder than words as we cannot be taken for granted for too long.

Our call as Ptuz is for greater unity of action in our diversity.

Teachers’ actions would liberate us from poverty.

We dont claim monopoly of wisdom, but believe in complementary actions by all unions, at leadership and grassroots levels, particularly at the theatre of labour struggle, viz, the school.

Wisdom is like a baobab tree, no individual can embrace it.

Venceremos

*Dr Takavafira M. Zhou,

Ptuz President*