TEACHERS have rejected a 10 percent pay hike offered by the government during negotiations Monday as the administration scrambled to stop a strike called by unions this Tuesday.
Unions had vowed their members would not return to work when schools open this Tuesday if government failed to meet their demand for a 100 percent wage hike.
Officials held meetings with the five teachers’ unions as well as other sections of the civil service under the auspices of the so-called National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC).
The employer offered a 10 percent salary increase for the whole civil service effective July 1 while the ban on teachers’ vacation leave would be lifted.
Unions however, rejected the offer outright but were divided on whether or not teachers should go on strike Tuesday
The Federation of Zimbabwe Educators Union (FOZEU) condemned both the “process and outcome” of Monday’s NJNC meetings.
“FOZEU still stands by its demands to government which include 100 percent salary increment, education sector specific allowances vacation leave to be reinstated unconditionally and the establishment of an education bargaining council,” the union said in a statement.
“Member Unions are consulting their membership on the way forward pending the outcome of the 14 May 2018 meeting with Government.
“Should Government fail to address all the issues raised above, FOZEU through its membership structures, will go back to the trenches and Government will be to blame.”
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Raymond Majongwe said it was up to government whether or not the strike would go ahead.
“The strike lies with government if it does not respond or own up to our demands,” he said.
“If they respond well, we will not have a strike, but if they do not respond well surely we will go on a strike. There are no two ways about it.”
However, a union which represents teachers working in the rural areas called on its members to stage a sit-in Tuesday.
“(The) Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) stands firmly on the job action which we called for on 27 April 2018 through a two week ultimatum to the Public Service Commission as demands outlined therein are unmet,” the union said.
“We take great exception on the path chosen by the government to ignore the genuine issues tabled before its duty bearers when teacher unions organised under Federation of Zimbabwe Educators Unions (FOZEU).
“As a way forward , ARTUZ calls on all its members to, with immediate effect stage sit-ins across the country; members must not undertake any tasks as part of the job action.”
Education minister Paul Mavhima met union leaders Monday but remained cagey over the details.
“The meeting was not meant to discuss teachers’ grievances,” he said.
“There is nothing to report to anyone about. We are not pre-emptying anything. We were not in a meeting regarding the teachers’ strike/demands.
“It was just a formal meeting with my unions and it had nothing to do with the strike issue. I do not deal with salary issues; you know who does that.
“It is improper for me to talk about bargaining issues. It was just a courtesy call with minister and the unions.”