Last week, the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe ended its three-week-old strike after the government agreed to an increase teachers’ pay. The teachers had been demanding both a salary hike and a substantial rise in their housing allowances. The decision to call off their strike comes as the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions prepares to call a mass action against the government this month. So, will the teachers’ union join in the coming mass action?
Raymond Majongwe, secretary general of the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe, said his union plans to be part of the coming mass action against the Zimbabwe government.
“We must make it very clear, we are an affiliate of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, and any such decision that is going be to taken by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions is binding with us. We are to be with everybody who’s fighting for the upliftment of the workers of this country,” he said.
Majongwe said even though the government has agreed to meet some union demands, it has yet to satisfy many more.
“We have the issue of anti-retroviral (AIDS drugs) because we have quite a lot of our teachers who are obviously succumbing to the disease. While we contribute a lot of money to the national AIDS counseling funds, we are not benefiting," said Majongwe. "We also have the issue of government making sure that they pay school fees for our children. We also have the issue about conditions of serving; we also have the issue of housing. So all these issues have not been addressed, and we are simply saying we will not sit on our laurels until all these other demands are met.”
He said Zimbabwe teachers are paid an equivalent of $15 a month and therefore cannot afford to pay for their children’s tuition.
"We are in a situation where we can’t send our children to school, and we are saying to the government, therefore, come give us a salary that enables us to do that, because there is precedence,” Majongwe said. "The war veterans’ children are taking to school on the government’s funds. So we are simply saying we are within the service, and we must also get the benefits."