TEACHERS and government are heading for a showdown this month-end after teachers’ organisations indicated that they will not accept salaries below US$400.
Government promised to pay civil servants – who have since February been surviving on a monthly allowance of US$100 – salaries beginning this month though it indicated that it has a thin budget. Â
However, the country’s two main teachers’ organisations, the militant Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta), said they would reject a salary below US$400 and will embark on a nationwide strike.
PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe yesterday said: “We will only agree to an acceptable figure and since the cost of living in the country is around US$400 that is the amount that we will accept otherwise we will stop reporting for duty.”
Tendai Chikowore, Zimta president, said teachers have been patient for too long on the salaries issue and were not being consulted by the government.
“As teachers’ representatives we are still unaware of the salary scales government will put in place because we were not officially informed,” she said. Â
Chikowore could not be drawn on the ideal salary Zimta members wanted, but sources in the organisation said the teachers were looking at minimum monthly pay of US$400.
She said while government’s decision to pay salaries was welcome and long overdue, her organisation was concerned that they were not consulted on the matter.
“The salary issue is not clear and while we commend the government on coming up with plans to replace the allowance, we are worried on the lack of consultation as this will create problems in future if there is no consensus,” Chikowore explained.
Finance Minister Tendai Biti a fortnight ago announced that the government had mobilised resources and will with effect from the end of July start paying salaries to civil servants.
The government of national unity between President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara is broke and has struggled to pool resources to revive the comatose economy.
The allowances paid to civil servants since the formation of the unity government were raised from donors.
BY LOUGHTY DUBE