Teachers have declared incapacitation ahead of reopening of schools for examination classes after a hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the scheduled reopening day for Zimbabwe Examination Council (ZIMSEC) schools, 28 September is drawing nearer, Teachers’ two representative organisations, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) and the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) have claimed that their members will not make it as they do not have bus fares without mentioning food shortages they are facing.

The Artuz secretary general Robson Chere wrote a letter to the chairperson of the Public Service Commission, Vincent Hungwe requesting a review on the salaries of teachers which they want to be restored to August 2018’s USD salary of USD520, though they are open for an equivalent amount in local currency.

Chere wrote, “this letter serves to inform you that as Artuz members we are incapacitated to report back for duty and survive this harsh economic environment heightened by COVID-19.

Adding in the letter, Chere said “we can no longer afford transport to duty stations, to pay basic food stuffs, rentals, water, electricity bills and other essential services now priced in USDs.

Our paltry salaries in RTGS cannot sustain us for a whole month or even a week. We request an urgent review of our salaries in USD dollars or RTGS at the prevailing interbank rate, with monthly reviews from the government. We urge the employer to come up with an urgent solution to avert our situation,” lamented Chere.

Another teachers Union, PTUZ’s president Takavafira Zhou reiterated that the government have failed the teachers whose patience for having their working conditions improved have been overstretched.

The government has overstretched teachers’ patience and elasticity that has now reached a breaking point. Only a few days before the public schools open, there is no clarity over improvement of salaries and service conditions,” he alluded.

Zhou added, “what is inherently clear is that teachers have all tested positive to poverty and unless there is a concerted effort to address this long standing issue, teachers would be incapacitated to report for work.

Zhou added that the Apex council had blatantly failed to lobby for the better salaries of teachers and entirely the public service workers.

He labeled the government arrogant and basted the introduction of discrepancies among its employees with effect from June 2020.

That Presidential prerogative is at best a fantasy and at worst a dangerous threat to security of the country and teaching profession,” said Zhou.

Government salaries are determined by qualifications, years of experience, responsibility and promotion. It is puzzling that the qualifications, responsibility, promotions and years of teachers have suddenly been rendered useless by the new dispensation,” added Zhou.

Credit: Newsday

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