. . . strike call ignored countrywide
TEACHERS countrywide yesterday ignored a call to down tools, indicating they were warming up to dialogue and Government’s interventions to cushion them from economic challenges.
The failure of the billed strike action was a major setback for the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) and the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) that had insisted on the job action.
By Monday, though, most teachers’ unions had called off the strike after they met Primary and Secondary Education Minister Professor Paul Mavima.
Prof Mavima outlined to them a battery of interventions, including non-monetary incentives, that President Mnangagwa has rolled out to lessen the burden on the worker in the face of painful austerity measures being administered to ensure long-term economic recovery.
Apex Council organising secretary Mr Charles Chinosengwa yesterday said most schools recorded a 100 percent teacher turnout.
“We have been going around the schools to see if our members have heeded our call to give dialogue a chance and I can report that it was business as usual in our schools,” he said.
“We have visited high-density areas in Harare like Glen Norah, Mufakose, Highfield and Glen View and teachers and children are in class.
“If there were disturbances, it would be because of the heavy rains witnessed in the morning. We are encouraging our members to continue with their duties until we exhaust all the negotiating channels with Government. We will only declare a strike if Government fails to implement what we agreed on Monday.”
Mr Chinosengwa added: “We have seen the non-monetary incentives and initiatives that Government wants to give teachers and we are saying let us give this a chance.”
Government committed itself to operationalising a raft of non-monetary incentives and empowerment initiatives for teachers.
Sector-specific issues which the teachers want addressed include acting, head of department and examination allowances; accommodation challenges; corruption within Government when members want to transfer; permission to go on annual leave and annual leave on transfer.
The educators also want their children, at least three per individual, to be exempted from paying school fees at Government institutions.
Task teams, constituted by teachers unions’ representatives and officials from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, were set up to ensure implementation of the agreements.
The Herald yesterday visited schools such as David Livingstone Primary School, Girls High, Allan Wilson High School, Blakiston Primary School and Harare High School and found teachers busy with classes.
Lessons also went on smoothly at schools such as Mhuriimwe Secondary School in Highfield, Mukai and Highfield One High Schools.
“We are conducting classes as usual and there no threats from any quarter,” said one teacher at Highfield One High School.
In Masvingo, it was business as usual at both urban and rural as teachers ignored calls to stay away from work.
Schools such as Dikwindi,Runyararo,Shakashe,Rujeko,Helen McGhie,Victoria Junior and Francis Aphiri primary schools together with Mucheke,Ndarama,Masvingo
Christian and Victoria High Schools opened as usual.
Some of the teachers who spokes to The Herald on condition of anonymity said they saw no reason to embark on a strike without exhausting dialogue.
Masvingo provincial education director Mr Zedious Chitiga could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone went unanswered.
Teachers in Mashonaland Central were also busy with their daily duties.
A check in Bindura, Mazowe and Guruve districts showed that teachers were busy conducting lessons with no disturbances.
Schools that had remained closed in Mbire following the recent violent protests are now operating.
When The Herald visited Chipindura, Chipadze and Salvation Army primary schools in Chipadze high-density suburb, it was business as usual as the teachers were conducting their lessons.
Efforts to get a comment from Mashonaland Central provincial education director, Mrs Naome Chikosha were fruitless as she was said to be out of office and had travelled to Harare on business.
Some of the teachers who spoke on condition of anonymity, said since there is no deadlock between them and their employer, it was imperative for them to give dialogue a chance.
In Midlands, schools recorded a high teacher turn out with most of them saying they could not take part in an illegal industrial action.
At Ascot Secondary, Mambo and Chaplin High Schools school authorities went about their business.
Acting Midlands provincial education director Reverend Tedious Matienga said: “We have not yet reports that there were no lessons. It’s a normal school day.”
In Kwekwe, it was business as usual except at Kwekwe High School and Russel Primary School.
Parents could be seen collecting their children at Russel Primary School as some teachers did not turn up.
“I received a call from the school advising me to come and collect my kid,” said one parent.
At Kwekwe High School, pupils could be seen roaming around the school while others found an opportunity to walk in the central business district.
Lessons progressed well at most schools in Mashonaland West province.
Schools such as Nemakonde High School, Mhanyame Primary School conducted normal lessons while Chemagamba had a sports day.
It was business as usual at schools in Mhangura, Kariba and Kadoma.