By Dr Takafira Zhou.
Cdes, the PTUZ delegation today met with President Mnangagwa at his Munhumutapa Boardroom. We presented a number of grievances and made suggestions on what we believe the government should do in order to solve our grievances. The issues include:
• The need to urgently solve the matter of a castrated bonus;
• The issue of addressing the cost of living that has gone up astronomically. We made it clear that it will be difficult for schools to open as teachers cannot afford to send their children to school, and cannot afford themselves to travel to schools, given that transport costs have risen by 300% over the past three months;
• We also raised the issue of employment of qualified teachers who are roaming the streets. The issue of teacher-pupil ratio, we believe, has to be addressed by employment of new teachers; if we have excess teachers, we export them to neighbouring countries through government to government agreements;
• The issue of teachers with disabilities and their needs and the need for government interventions;
• Allowances in the education system that need to be raised to acceptable figures;
• Non-monetary incentives for teachers, which include housing stands and duty-free vehicles once every five years;
• The need to pay a realistic amount for ZIMSEC duties including invigilation;
• The new curriculum needs the empowerment of teachers to write books and equipment of schools with material for its successful implementation;
• On social dialogue, it was noted that meaningful collective bargaining for teacher specific issues should be negotiated by teachers, not Apex Council;
• Recommendations from those negotiations should be binding;
• We stated that school fees and uniforms prices have risen beyond the capacity of teachers and the Government needs to raise the pay or address macro-economic fundamentals to stabilise the economy;
• On women concerns, we raised the issue that most women are being abused in the system. We also raised that married couples should be allowed to be at the same station or stations near each other so as to deal with challenges of HIV/AIDS and other social and economic challenges. The president conceded that the functionaries in MOPSE have to urgently do something about that;
• Student teachers – these should be paid full salary like other government trainees, and those on teaching practice should have fees to colleges reduced;
• On vacation, it should be restored without adjustment. Those who have been taxed their CIL should be refunded that money urgently; and
• Harassment of unions should cease if the new dispensation is really new.
Cdes, we believe we have made our mark. The Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare was represented by the Acting Minister, Sithembiso Nyoni, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Prof Mavhima was in attendance, as was the Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Dr Vincent Hungwe. Our issues were raised at a forum where those who matter were in attendance. Cdes, it would be naive to think that the solutions can be realised overnight as we now eagerly await the government’s response.
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