Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
SUPPORT staff at mission schools are now earning salaries higher than school heads, a development which has irked authorities who are now failing to pay them.
This has prompted 75 mission schools to approach the High Court seeking to bar their workers from subscribing to the National Employment Council for Educational and Welfare Institutions.
The application is viewed as a ploy by the schools to avoid huge salary bills.
According to the latest collective bargaining agreement for the NEC published under Statutory Instrument 6 of 2012, the most paid auxiliary staffers are getting a basic salary of US$509, exclusive of allowances, while most school heads are earning salaries in the region of US$400.
School heads and teaching staff fall under the Public Service Commission.
Mission schools are resisting to pay the gazetted salaries arguing that only schools that do not have school development committees should be governed by the NEC figures.
The 75 schools which are run by SDCs argue that their institutions were under the control of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture.
On that basis, the Mission Schools Development Committees Employers’ Trust has instructed its lawyer, Mr Farai Ruzive of Nyawo Ruzive Legal Practice, to approach the higher court seeking to remove mission school staffers from the Zimbabwe Educational Social, Scientific and Cultural Workers’ Union.
The trust does not want the workers to be affiliated with the union and the NEC for Educational and Welfare Institutions.
It is also seeking an order declaring that the 75 mission schools should not be governed by the Labour Relations (Welfare and Educational Institutions) Employment Regulations, 1995 Statutory Instrument 192 of 1992.
In the summons, the NEC for Educational and Welfare Institutions, the Zimbabwe Educational Social, Scientific and Cultural Workers’ Union and the Educational Social, Scientific and Cultural Employers’ Organisation were cited as defendants.
The schools argue that the NEC and the unions cited were wrongly collecting subscriptions from the workers and purporting to represent them when they were not legally empowered to do so.
The workers’ union claims it has a legal right to represent the workers at disciplinary proceedings and enter plaintiff’s members’ premises and to negotiate conditions of service and salaries relating to plaintiff’s members’ sector.
The same union has also made legal claims against the mission schools for underpayment on behalf of the workers.
“The plaintiff’s members (75 schools) do not fall under the categories of industries covered by the defendants’ operations.
“Plaintiff’s members are institutions which are maintained or controlled by the State.
“The Permanent Secretary for Education, Sport, Arts and Culture is empowered by Statutory Instrument 87 of 1992 to monitor and regulate the activities of SDCs,” the summons read.
It is the mission schools’ contention that they had no employers’ or employees’ bodies neither was there any trade union.
“Given the non-existence of any body formed by plaintiff’s members or a trade union formed by plaintiff’s members’ employees for their sector, the defendants have no mandate to enter into salary and employment conditions negotiations on plaintiff’s behalf,” the summons read.
The schools stated that on diverse occasions the defendants had unsuccessfully tried to register collective bargaining agreements.
The Registrar of Labour has rebuffed all the attempts, according to the schools.
The NEC and the unions are yet to file their opposing papers.