Teachers’ unions should be realistic: Govt

Teachers’ unions need to be realistic in their engagements with the Government over salaries, taking into consideration the present economic challenges, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima said yesterday when a team of ministers met the unions.

Concerns have been noted and would be taken to President Mnangagwa and Cabinet for further deliberations.

Yesterday, a team of ministers met unions to address their concerns after teachers had complained that their salaries were too low.

Some teachers have not reported for duty since examination classes reopened on September 28, while others are understood to be conducting illegal private lessons and demanding a premium.

Teacher representatives are calling for a minimum salary of US$520 or the equivalent at the auction rate.

However, Government has indicated that it would be unable to pay in US dollars given that it has reintroduced the local currency.

“They have raised their concerns and we are taking these concerns to the President and Cabinet. We have heard their concerns, but we also appealed to them to be realistic in their concerns and consider the economic conditions prevailing in the country.

“The salary negotiations between the Government and the National Joint Negotiating Council are ongoing. But Government decided to cushion its workers, while waiting for these negotiations to be finalised and the appeal to civil servants is to be patient while waiting for the outcome,” said Professor Mavima.

Last week, Treasury paid a 40 percent cost of living salary adjustment to cushion civil servants, while waiting for the completion of negotiations with unions over pay and other employment terms.

Government has also committed to continue paying the temporary US$75 monthly Covid-19 allowances that it promised to all its workers for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a joint statement after their meeting with Government, the eight unions representing teachers raised their concerns, but remained optimistic that common ground with the employer would be found.

“We look forward to reaching a favourable consensus and collectively forge a productive way forward,” reads part of the statement.

“We appeal for the urgent payment of sector-specific allowances.”

Last week, lessons commenced in a new phased approach to avoid a spike in Covid-19 infections.

This year’s examination classes started lessons last week.

On October 26, next year’s examination classes resume classes and then on November 9, everyone else goes back to school.

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