BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
LEGISLATORS on Wednesday last week confronted government over its plans to recruit more teachers at a time it was failing to adequately remunerate those already in service.
Teachers in public schools are currently reporting for duty only two days per week as they push for the pre-October 2018 salaries of between US$520 and US$550 or their equivalent in local currency.
Last Wednesday during the National Assembly question-and-answer session, MDC-T Matabeleland South MP Sipho Mokone asked Public Service minister Paul Mavima to explain why teachers were being recruited at a time when those already in service were underpaid.
Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba (Zanu PF) blamed government for salary disparities between teachers and the rest of the civil service, especially those in the security sector.
“I want to bring it to your attention that teachers are the lowest paid people in society. The lowest paid teacher is receiving a salary of $10 000, which is lower than the one being paid to a security guard.
“Security guards used to be people who are not well educated, but now they are earning more than a teacher. This is the point of clarity that I am appealing to the minister to ensure that this imbalance in salaries for teachers who are professionals is addressed. There is a disparity between the salaries of teachers and soldiers,” Chinotimba said.
But Mavima said government would not be restrained by the prevailing economic environment to recruit more teachers as the economy would recover and be able to pay its workers competitively.
He dismissed Chinotimba’s claims that teachers were underpaid, saying that government was in fact paying its employees way above the salary thresholds recommended by the National Employment Councils (NECs).
“You vice-versed the teacher and the security guards; I sign the collective bargaining agreements. In actual fact, government is way above most of the NECs as far as remuneration is concerned. I genuinely say we did quite a lot in 2020.
“We also did quite a lot in terms of stabilisation of the economy. The only issue is that is it enough? Maybe not and I have said as we go forward, we need to continue to look at our situation, review it and work towards making sure that we are paying optimal levels that motivate our people to work in a very committed manner. That is what we need if we are to move government programmes.”
Recently, government announced that it would enforce the no-work-no-pay policy on striking teachers after salary negotiations reached a deadlock last month.
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