Government tells teachers to take the latest offer or leave it

Government has tabled a new salary offer to its workers that will see the least paid teacher earn about $19 975, including a 10% risk allowance and shut the door for further negotiations.

The latest offer was tabled during a National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) meeting held in Harare yesterday.

Although the Apex Council did not give figures regarding the government offer, a leaked news brief by Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) to its members revealed government simply went to confirm its offer announced by Cabinet on Tuesday, which teachers rejected.

“The NJNC meeting today agreed to adjourn to Monday 16 December 2020 to further consult their constituencies on an improved offer brought forth by the employer,” Dzatsunga said in a statement released after the meeting.

“Since the figures are yet to be finalised to the satisfaction of either party, it will be premature to disclose the quantum except to say there has been some tangible progress in the discussions.”

But according to the Zimta brief confirmed by its executive secretary Sifiso Ndlovu, the least-paid teacher, grade D1, will now get $19 957 inclusive of the US$75 COVID-19 allowance and a 10% special allowance of $1 852,40. Teachers’ grades range from D1 to D5. The least-paid government worker, B1, will now earn $14 524 while a Grade E1 employee will now walk away with $21 205.

“Bonus will be paid as announced earlier, but will now include basic salary, transport allowance and housing allowance,” part of the Zimta brief read.

“Government has exhausted its mandate and will not be reviewing the figures beyond current levels.

“From this meeting, which seems to be shutting all doors of further search for improvement, government gave a cautionary notice stating that all teachers must now earn what they have worked for, forthwith. No work, no pay principle will now apply.”

Zimta added: “Meanwhile, our negotiating team requested time-out to consult you our members on this development, and NJNC will reconvene on Monday 16 November 2020 at 1000hrs.”

“Please submit your views that will now inform the way forward. Let’s have further interrogations of our earlier positions in light of the circumstances.”

Ndlovu expressed concern over government’s intimidatory tactics which he said were meant to stifle further negotiations. Teachers have been on strike since September when schools reopened following a six-month-long COVID-19-induced closure.

The educators are demanding between US$520 and US$550, but Public Service minister Paul Mavima dismissed the demand as “outrageous”, adding government had no capacity to pay US dollar salaries.

Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou yesterday said teachers would not accept anything below US$550.

“We don’t see any tangible progress. Any tangible progress should exceed US$550. We don’t even see how they can reach 80%. That will still be far less; it can even achieve half of what we want. That will still be not enough,” Zhou said.

“There won’t be any progress before the restoration of the US$550.”

He said government should first disclose how it is paying other civil servants like soldiers.

The Apex Council, Zhou said, was anybody whose term of office has expired and will likely agree to anything. He however warned teachers will not be bound by any agreement running short of their demands.

“As long as our demands are not met, we will remain incapacitated and will not be able to report for duty,” Zhou said.

Meanwhile, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s office has reportedly reached out to the militant PTUZ for dialogue as government yesterday reportedly raised its salary increment offer in a desperate bid to end the educators’ industrial action.

Zhou confirmed the offer for dialogue from the Office of the President, saying the parties would meet at the union’s offices in Harare on Monday after the unionists yesterday refused to meet Mnangagwa’s emissaries in the absence of other unions.

“Some men who said they are from the President’s Office approached us today (yesterday) for a meeting,” Zhou said. “We said, no, we can’t meet as a single union, but as a united front of all teachers unions. So we have agreed the meeting will now take place on Monday at 10 am. We have agreed the meeting will be held at the PTUZ offices,” said Zhou.

Permanent secretary for presidential communications in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Regis Chikowore said he was not aware of the alleged meeting with PTUZ representatives.

–NewsDay

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