HARARE – Teachers are threatening to go on strike next week as they are accusing the Government of failing to come up with the exact date when they would be paid their 13th cheque.
However, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Services, Prisca Mupfumira, has assured teachers and the rest of civil servants who are yet to receive their 2014 bonuses that they would be paid by the end of this month.
“I want to assure the teachers and the rest of civil servants that bonuses will be paid by month end. The payment will be staggered because of cash inflows. However, we are not going back on our word. Bonuses will be paid from the week beginning 5 January,” said Cde Mupfumira.
Teacher representatives interviewed by The Sunday Mail last week said primary and secondary school educators had indicated that they would embark on an industrial action, as schools open, in protest over unpaid bonuses.
The unions said there is confusion surrounding the outstanding bonuses due to non-communication by the Government and continuous shifting of goal posts on the payment date.
Progressive Teachers’ Union of
Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Mr Takavafira Zhou said lack of clarity over 2014 bonuses would push teachers to strike.
“The issue remains unclear. There have been many changes on the dates and no one is committing to communicate officially to us.
“By doing so, the Government is actually sending people on strike because they are playing hide and seek,” Mr Zhou said.
“Even if they do not have the money, they should come up and tell us what is really happening. (The Government should) tell us the exact date instead of using a blanket term of the 5th of January.
“So far, communication within our organisation is that teachers will not report for duty until their bonuses are paid and we will not be accepting the staggering effect.”
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (ZIMTA) chief executive officer Mr Sifiso Ndlovu said teachers were disgruntled by the actions of the Government.
“The issue with bonuses is still a mirage. Whenever the dates come close they move to another date,” he said.
“To make matters worse, there is no communication from our employer concerning the issue. We were only informed of bonus pay dates changes through the media. We even wrote to the new minister a few weeks back seeking clarity over the issue, but we are yet to receive a response.
“As long as there is no clarity and no dialogue it is very possible that teachers will strike. People are disappointed and when people are angry anything is possible. That is why we have been calling for clarity and dialogue from the Government concerning the issue”.
However parents have said teachers should bear with Government given the current economic climate.
“The country is going through economic hardships, why are they failing to see that? They should be thankful they are getting monthly salaries. Furthermore they were assured that they will get their bonuses this month. I do not know why they want to take the insensitive route,” said Anna Simango from Glenview in a brief interview in town as she bought uniforms for her child.