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  • Strikes and Protests 2007/8 - Teachers and Lecturers

  • Schools grind to a halt as teachers heed strike call
    Patricia Mpofu, ZimOnline
    October 02, 2007

    Visit the index of articles on the teachers' strikes

    HARARE - Zimbabwe public schools ground to a halt on Monday after the majority of teachers heeded calls by teachers' unions not to report for duty until their demands for better pay and working conditions were addressed.

    The country's largest teachers' union, the Zimbabwe Teachers Union (ZIMTA) last week called on teachers to down tools, saying the government had failed to respond to their demands for improved salaries.

    The strike by ZIMTA, which is pro-government, comes hardly a week after the militant Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) urged its members to embark on an industrial action in protest over their poor salaries and working conditions.

    The teachers' strike comes as it emerged yesterday that the bulk of the civil servants, who are among the least paid workers in Zimbabwe, were also contemplating joining the teachers' strike demanding better pay.

    The lowest paid government workers earns Z$500 000 a month, enough to buy just about two loaves of bread.

    A survey by ZimOnline yesterday showed that there was no learning taking place at most schools in Harare with some pupils spending the better part of the morning loitering in school grounds.

    Similar reports were also recorded in the major cities and towns such as Masvingo, Bulawayo, Gweru and Mutare.

    ZIMTA president Tendai Chikowore refused to comment on the strike amid reports that the teachers' union was under pressure from suspected state security agents to call off the industrial action.

    Sources within the ZIMTA and the PTUZ said they had received several calls from suspected state agents urging them to halt the job action with several teachers saying state agents had visited schools in Harare to check on teachers' attendances.

    Raymond Majongwe, the secretary general of the PTUZ, said he had received a death threat on his mobile phone warning him to call off the country-wide strike that has paralysed operations at most schools.

    "I received a death threat on my phone yesterday (Sunday) from unidentified people who said I must call off the strike," said Majongwe.

    There were also several reports of harassment of teachers in Mhondoro, Ngezi, Zaka and Chinhoyi.

    The teachers want the government to increase salaries from the current Z$2.9 million to Z$32 million a month, revised upwards from the initial demand of Z$15 million a month.

    Lecturers and non-academic staff at state-run universities are also said to be mulling industrial action this week to press President Robert Mugabe's government to hike salaries by between 300 and 1 000 percent.

    Junior doctors have also issued threats to embark on industrial action. The junior doctors, want their salaries hiked to Z$120 million a month, up from the $6 million they are currently earning.

    The new salary demands were tabled at a meeting held by the doctors and the Health Services Board last week.

    In a statement released yesterday, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition urged the government to quickly resolve the strike by teachers and doctors.

    "The Crisis Coalition in Zimbabwe calls upon the government of Zimbabwe to address the demands by the teachers and doctors in order to stabilise the education and health system in the country," read the statement.

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