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Teachers begrudgingly call off strike

Unions representing the majority of teachers in Zimbabwe say they begrudgingly called off their strike due to security concerns for their members.

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) last week embarked on industrial action to force the government to attend to their grievances.

The teachers want their employer to review their basic salary to $1,733 for the lowest paid teacher, and also effect adjustment in the cost of living allowances.

The government had tabled an 18 percent pay increment which the unions rejected.

In a joint statement released on Sunday, the unions announced that they had called off the strike and urged all their members to report for duty.

“Our members who were on industrial action must, therefore, report for work commencing Monday the 11th of February 2019 and wait for further commands and direction and fully operational by Tuesday the 2th of February 2019. Our members will remain vigilant, active, mobilising and defensive of their constitutional given rights for the furtherance of their welfare and professional needs,” the statement read in part.

However, the unions told CITE in separate interviews that they suspended their strike as their members were now being harassed and intimidated.

“The reason for the suspension of the industrial action was the total invasion of schools by rogue youths, war veterans, security forces and councillors,” said PTUZ president Dr Takavafira Zhout.

“The systematic targeting of teachers posed serious threats to educators in their residential areas outside schools.”

Zimta chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu added that they called off the strike in order to avoid any physical and emotional abuse of their members by both state and non-state forces.

“We called of the strike because we did not want the repeat of 2008 and thus we appealed to the ministry of primary and secondary education to guarantee full protection of our members,” said Ndlovu.

Zhou also accused other unions of sabotaging the strike.

“It was in this operational terrain that we failed to vacate as a group with many teachers staying in rather than staying away. It was therefore foolhardy to expect immediate results without total abandonment of schools by teachers, never mind the spirited venture in many schools.”

However, the unions noted that the strike had yielded some positive results.

“There are also direct benefits emanating from the industrial action in terms of education specific allowances negotiated under the armpit of the education sector. If this is expedited teachers’ parlous salary could be cushioned by allowances.

Meanwhile, the government last week announced that the security forces and the health sector will receive their February salaries on February 15 while the education sector will receive their salaries on February 19.

The rest of the civil service and pensioners will be paid on February 22.

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