A group of teachers representative associations; the United Front of Teachers’ Unions (UFTU) has said the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE) should stop threatening educators or force them to report for duty because that will never capacitate teachers.
This comes after the Education Minister Cain Mathema uttered that the government will be monitoring teachers who are not reporting for duty and fill in the gaps with new educators.
Low turn up of teachers have been reported across Zimbabwe as the government continues to reopen schools in phases in a caution to the COVID-19.
Educators unions have however argued that the teachers are not on strike but are genuinely incapacitated.
UFTU in a communique says, “Our members in particular, and teachers in general, were not absent from duty but were and are still incapacitated. This state of affairs was communicated well to the employer by unions on their behalf. This means that legally, our members did not commit any crime.”
“Government should stop making short cuts when dealing with the issues of teachers. We will not fold our hands while the PSC and MoPSE urinate upon the SI 1 of 2000, Public Service Act (Chapter 16:04) and Labour Act (Chapter 28:01) by trying to punish incapacitated teachers. We want to warn whoever dares punish incapacitated teachers that he/ she must be prepared to run the whole distance.”
The Educators unions say they are ready for a legal battle to defend the teachers.
“To all our members and all incapacitated teachers, Heads, DSIs and PEDs, we have come this far in this incapacitation struggle because of wars in our pockets, kitchens, bedrooms, marriages and families. Nothing has changed and therefore, let’s remain resolute and focused because our demands are genuine,” UFTU says.
“We are not asking for more like Oliver Twist but only want restoration of our salaries which gvt reduced from USD 520-550 in October 2018 to around 5500 RTGS in October 2020 (roughly 67 USD using Government transfer rates), less the Covid allowance of 6100 RTGS.”
“We don’t expect the equally eviscerated Heads, DSIs and PEDs to sacrifice the incapacitated teachers by submitting names for victimisation. Free warning to those who will overzealously sacrifice incapacitated teachers is that the United Front of Teacher Unions will not tire on defending its members. We are ready for that legal battle and our guns are well oiled.”
UFTU communique also addressed parents stating that “the truth of the matter is that there are no teachers in schools.”
“There hasn’t been any improvement on infrastructure to accommodate social distancing. It’s all trial and error which eventually endangers your children. Whoever is telling the nation that all is well in schools is a true liar who should enter into the Genis Book of Records,” UFTU says.
“Our piece of advice is that don’t send your children to schools where there are no teachers until the government addresses the situation. Teachers are very much ready to teach learners because that is their area of specialisation but they just can’t because of perpetual penury instituted by their employer.”
“In actual fact, the parents should fight on the side of teachers for the simple reason that you can’t entrust future of your children upon disgruntled and frustrated teachers,” the Unions continue.
United Front of Teachers’ Unions include PTUZ, TUZ, ZRTU, ZDTU, ARTUZ, ZINATU and ZINEU.