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  • Strikes and Protests 2007/8 - Teachers and Lecturers

  • University lectures strike as teachers embark on "go slow"
    January 31, 2007

    HARARE – Zimbabwe university lecturers went on strike earlier this week while teachers’ unions said their members were on a "go-slow" and would abandon classes altogether beginning next Monday to press for better pay and working conditions.

    The university lecturers join a long list of state workers that includes doctors and nurses who have been boycotting work to push President Robert Mugabe’s cash-strapped government to improve their salaries.

    Doctors, who have been joined by nurses, have been on strike over the past seven weeks, straining a public health sector that is barely functional at the best of times due to shortages of essential medicines and an overload of HIV/AIDS cases.

    Lecturers at the state-run National University of Science and Technology (NUST) and Lupane State University say they were miffed over the recent salary increments awarded in January which they say are still way below their expectations.

    A spokesman of the Zimbabwe State Universities Union of Academic Associations, Bernard Njekeya, said the lecturers were not happy with the 300 percent salary increment awarded by the government this month.

    "Lecturers were just given the 300 percent that was awarded to other civil servants and we are striking for an opportunity to negotiate as determined by the Labour Act. There is need for the employer and the employees to sit down and negotiate," Njekeya said.

    Njekeya said other universities were expected to join the strike in the coming weeks after their notices to embark on industrial action have expired.

    "The salaries for lecturers are very low and we as an organisation are demanding a salary that would sustain lecturers. We are asking for salaries that have value," Njekeya said.

    In Harare, secretary general of the militant Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), Raymond Majongwe, said teachers will embark on a "go slow" ahead of a full-fledged strike next Monday.

    "Starting on Wednesday, we are going on a go-slow and then on Monday, it will become a full-fledged nation-wide strike," said Majongwe.

    Zimbabwean teachers earn an average of about Z$157 000 a month, which is way below the $344 000 that the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says an average family of five needs per month to survive.

    Strikes by university lecturers and teachers over poor pay are common in Zimbabwe as the southern African nation battles an economic meltdown described by the World Bank as the worst in the world outside a war zone.

    Zimbabwe’s education system once lauded as one of the best in Africa is in shambles after years of under-funding and mismanagement by the government. - ZimOnline

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