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  • Strikes and Protests 2007/8 - Teachers and Lecturers

  • State agents deployed at schools as teachers strike
    February 06, 2007

    HARARE – The Zimbabwe government on Monday deployed feared state security agents at schools in urban areas as teachers embarked on a full-fledged strike to press for better salaries and working conditions, ZimOnline has learnt.

    The strike by teachers was however said to have kicked off on a slow note in most schools as state agents intimidated teachers to push them not to engage in the crippling job boycott.

    Raymond Majongwe, the secretary general of the militant Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), which called the strike told ZimOnline yesterday that the union was happy with the support they received yesterday.

    "We are encouraged by what happened today. Teachers were not teaching especially at high schools visited by our staff but the problem is that the Central Intelligence Organisation (state security agents) operatives are visiting schools in a clear sign of intimidation," said Majongwe.

    "We are talking about 75 percent success rate and we are confident by tomorrow (Tuesday) the success of the strike will be there for all to see," he added.

    Majongwe said the PTUZ saluted all teachers who took part in the three-day go-slow last week.

    "This is despite serious systematic threats against the PTUZ leadership and some of our members," he added.

    Zimbabwe’s teachers are among the lowest paid civil servants with most teachers earning slightly about Z$150 000 a month, an amount way below the poverty datum line which currently stands at Z$334 000 a month.

    The teachers are demanding salaries of Z$540 000 a month and transport and housing allowances of Z$100 000 and $150 000 each respectively. They also want the government to exempt them from paying school fees for their own children.

    "The government does not understand the language of negotiations. Putting faith in negotiations will not yield desirable results. Fellow organisations pretending to be negotiating are abusing teachers," said Majongwe.

    Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere said the teachers’ strike was politically motivated and state agents were on the ground to monitor the situation.

    "We had reports that Majongwe intended to use violence to force teachers to join his strike. The security personnel were there (at schools) simply to monitor these and get on the ground reports from headmasters.

    "The situation is normal according to the reports we have collected. The people who are organising this strike are known government enemies who are funded by outside forces. We will not give in to their demands and I urge teachers to ignore Majongwe and his gang," said Chigwedere.

    Strikes by teachers and university lecturers over low pay and working conditions are common in Zimbabwe which is in its seventh year of a bitter economic recession most critics blame on President Robert Mugabe’s policies. - ZimOnline

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