Several unions representing teachers on Monday said their members will not be forced to teach despite threats by the government to withhold their benefits.
This comes after Primary and Secondary Education Minister Cain Mathema over the weekend told State media that the government was considering invoking the no-work, no-pay principle for teachers who have been boycotting lessons since the commencement of this term.
Since 2019, teachers have been demanding the restoration of their pre-October 2018 salaries of between US$520 and US$550 or the equivalent in local currency.
Zimbabwe National Teachers Union (ZINATU) chief executive officer Manuel Nyawo said their members would report for duty but will not teach until their salary demands are met. Said Nyawo:
The ministry can force us to report for duty, but they cannot force us to teach. As Zinatu, we will encourage our members to report for duty, but the ministry must rest assured that no learning is going to take place until our demands are met.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said instead of using bullying tactics, the government should resort to dialogue with the concerned parties if it wants to save the education sector.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) president Obert Masaraure said Mathema seems to be determined to destroy the education sector.
Masaraure further said teachers will never be coerced to attend for duty but will patiently wait for the day they will be capacitated.
Former Primary and Secondary Education minister David Coltart also criticised the government for the manner in which it is handling teachers’ grievances. He said:
If I was the Minister of Education today, I was not going to be issuing threats against them because teachers are suffering and they are not being paid a viable wage, that is the starting point.
I suspect that the salary stalemate with teachers is one of the reasons why the June examinations were suspended because schools are not functioning.