Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
THE Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) has ruled out any industrial action saying it is in favour of dialogue with Government to address its members’ concerns.
In an interview yesterday, Zimta president and Apex Council team leader Mr Richard Gundani commended Government for the cushioning allowances it paid its workers last week, but added that salaries and allowances which take into account the prevailing socio-economic environment provide a lasting solution to issues being raised.
“The truth of the matter is that the teacher has been incapacitated for a long time and a lot of them will be forced to moonlight at the end of the day. We don’t want that as it affects the pupil. At the same time we don’t want schools closed due to industrial action. Schools must remain open; children going to school. We don’t want industrial action and we will continue engaging in dialogue with the Government until we find a lasting solution,” he said.
Mr Gundani said they were not demanding a salary increment from Government.
He said they want United States dollar salaries they were earning up to October 2018 when the least paid teacher was getting around US$500 per month to be converted to the local currency at the interbank rate.
Mr Gundani said the least paid teacher must be paid about $8 000.
“We want a transition from the US dollar based salary we were getting up to October 2018 to a Zimbabwe dollar based salary using the existing interbank exchange rate. Our argument is centred on that transition. We are not asking for a salary increment. If Government had moved on with that transition back then, our salaries would be based on the current interbank exchange rate and the least paid teacher would be taking home about Z$8 000,” said Mr Gundani.
“At the moment the least paid teacher is taking home about Z$1 000 instead of about Z$8 000. We are contesting this gap, it should not have been there because this is what happened to the prices and services. They went up but we are still where we were in terms of salaries back in 2018.”
Government has said it is committed to addressing civil servants’ grievances.
Last week, Government released $300 million towards cushioning allowances for its workers.
“Yes every dollar counts and civil servants withdrew the cushioning allowances they got from Government. But we are saying we want a lasting solution so that we keep on reporting for duty and pupils coming to school. Zimta is solution oriented,” said Mr Gundani.