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Most teachers’ unions suspend strike as ARTUZ digs in

Masaraure

A majority of teachers’ unions suspended the educators’ strike following negotiations with the government to improve their working conditions, allowances and salaries but the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union (ARTUZ) said calling off the job action was unfortunate.

The Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) and the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) took turns to submit issues around the following;
1. Allowances that apply to the Education sector alone, whose figures and nature will be agreed to at an emergency meeting this week.
2. The need to separate the teaching fraternity from the rest of the civil service for the purposes of negotiations.
3. Stopping the victimisation of teachers in schools by political actors
4. Non-victimisation of teachers who participated in the strike.
PTUZ and ZIMTA said:
a) Our members will go back to work with effect from Tuesday to allow travel back to stations. There will be no victimisation for those who will be travelling back and report for work tomorrow
b) A set of allowances applicable to the Education sector will be discussed at a crisis session of the PSC and Unions this week. Figures and nature of allowances to be agreed upon expeditiously
c) The Minister will liaise with the necessary arms of gvt to expeditiously allow the separation of education matters from the rest of the civil service in order to allow for people with know-how in education sector issues to negotiate on teacher issues going forward.
d) It was also noted that an increment of the salary and housing and transportation allowances in themselves may not be forthcoming, but that establishment and increment of sectoral allowances will be more realistic for our sector, as it has been for the Health sector.
e) The Allowances we pitched for include the Education Allowance(20% of gross), Department Manager Allowance, School Manager Allowance, Advanced Level Allowance, Disabled ,School Sport Management Allowance,Rural Allowance and Special Teacher’s Allowance among others.
The two unions said some may not be happy with the agreement reached, but took the painful decision with the best interests of members.
“We have also received advice from legal gurus and partner unions and therefore believe this will assist towards attaining the desired outcomes.We will continue to negotiate for more. The government’s undertaking that it will hold a crisis meeting on the demands of teachers is a good sign for us . This is unprecedented. Surely someone is realising our sector specific issues cannot be bunched with those from all over.
“Suspending the strike for now is to us the best way forward. Comrades understand the strike has been SUSPENDED NOT CANCELLED.Even though we have our ammunition at hand our grievances over our remuneration still have had to be negotiated for. Much as we would have wanted to continue with the strike, we have had to reach a compromise with the government that we go back to work, and in turn it urgently convenes a meeting with the necessary stakeholders to ensure our grievances are addressed,” the two unions said in a joint statement.
ARTUZ: Our momentum has been adulterated but we have to fight on
ARTUZ said the wheels of inevitability have finally delivered the dreaded but expected reality where sister unions have jumped ship.
“Our battle for a living wage which we began in earnest with a 275 km Salary Caravan from Mutare to Harare followed up with a salary Camp at Minister Mthuli’s office and capped with a historic job action have been compromised.  The so called big Unions stepped in and gave false hope to the teachers yet the intention was to rock the ship which was gathering momentum.
“The fight for a living wage cannot be suspended neither can it be shelved by non-teachers who claim to represent the suffering teachers. We have to fight on but we don’t want to be suicidal. The premature withdraw from the job action by the bureaucrats of other Unions will expose the rank and file teachers to gross victimization by the employer,” said Obert Masaraure, ARTUZ President.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, ARTUZ calls upon genuine teachers to take this opportunity to sustain a genuine teachers’ lead struggle for a living wage. ARTUZ leadership has resolved on the following way forward in light of what they termed the betrayal from other Unions:
1) Teachers embark on a sit in preparing for a full blown strike whose dates will be announced soon.
2) Teachers who are incapacitated to report to a School near you. Ask the School Head to inform Public Service that they have received an incapacitated teacher. Perform all duties assigned to you at this school.
3) Teachers to sign a notice of job action. We are targeting a total of 50 000 teachers to sign the notice. The signing will be done both online and physically. The signed notice will be handed over to the employer and a teachers’ driven job action will commence 14 days after handing over notice as prescribed by the law.
4) Teachers to continue hosting the Teachers’ Unionism Renaissance Forums, TURFs to build awareness of labor rights among the teacher community.
They added that the struggle for a living wage cannot be driven by those who are insulated from the harsh economic realities confronting teachers.
“Let’s work hand in hand and secure the 50 000 signatures from teachers for our teacher driven job action. An online link for signing the notice will be shared by midday and hard copies will be delivered to schools.”

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende