HARARE – Rural teachers are voicing their outrage at delayed pay dates and benefit cuts saying their strike action is on until government — which is reeling from a deepening budget crisis driven by a weak economy — meets its obligations.
The assertive Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union (Artuz), which has threatened a strike next week due to disagreements over their bonuses following government’s failure to pay 13th cheques to civil servants, reiterated the 10 demands that it mentioned in its petition to government during the August 2016 march for pro-poor education.
The Artuz executive’s 10-day 200km protest walk from Mutawatawa Growth Point in Murehwa District to Harare was disrupted by the police. Its leaders spent a night in police cells after they handed over a petition of 10 demands at Maramba Pfungwe Education ministry district offices.
A strike authorisation for the impending action has been approved by Artuz national president Obert Masaraure.
“The strike action will commence 14 days after confirmation of receipt of this letter,” Artuz secretary-general Robson Chere said in a January 30 letter to Civil Service Commission (CSC).
The protest, announced in a letter to the director of the CSC, is on the back of pleas by government that the workers must be patient and avoid industrial action.
“We believe in our cause and we reiterate the 10 demands that we mentioned in our petition to government during that march for pro-poor education: a salary above PDL on time every month, an upward review of rural allowance, cessation of the non-transparent pension contributions, restoration of vacation leave and full maternity for teachers on probation, infrastructural development in rural schools and communities, an end to all forms of violence against rural teachers, a solution to the cash crisis ravaging our economy, full salaries for student teachers, awarding fully recognised school status to all satellite schools, and dissolution of incumbent government and fresh elections if our demands are not met,” Masaraure said.
“It is in line with these difficulties that we are demanding our bonuses and we will go into the streets for them.
“The government leaders enjoy lavish holidays that gobble millions of dollars while a teacher struggles to live on a few hundred dollars a month.