Teachers divided over strike

Teachers divided over strike
Published: 09 May 2018
SHARP divisions have rocked teachers' unions involved in negotiations for better working conditions, with some reportedly declaring a deadlock and calling for a crippling industrial action.

The divisions, according to sources, was triggered by the Apex Council and Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (Zimta)'s decision to enter separate negotiations with the government, leaving out the umbrella body Federation of Zimbabwe Educators Union (Fozeu).

Fozeu spokesperson, Manuel Nyawo confirmed the discord yesterday, adding that they were now mulling kicking Zimta out of its structures.

"Our discord is coming from Zimta's decision to attend a meeting between government and Apex. We feel cheated by Zimta," he said.

"Zimta wants to play big brother and is dealing with other unions in bad faith. When we formed Fozeu, we agreed we would not have any contact with the Apex Council."

Nyawo described the meeting of the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) as a "parallel" gathering meant to divide teachers.

Fozeu leaders at the same time were locked in a meeting with Primary and Secondary Education minister Paul Mavima and Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, minister in the Office of the President and Cabinet in charge of Policy Implementation.

"Our mediators brought this to Mavima's attention, but Mumbengegwi indicated that Fozeu was represented by Zimta officials," Nyawo said.

"We are now moving a motion for the expulsion of Zimta from Fozeu. They have sold out or they need to make a choice to stay with Apex or Fozeu. They cannot have it both ways."

Zimta president Richard Gundane said the issue of his union's allegiance was not important.

"We don't want to talk about that, it's not important. They are internal issues, but we are most concerned with securing the best deal for our membership," he said.
Apex Council chairperson Cecilia Alexander confirmed the union attended a meeting of the NJNC.

"Zimta is the deputy team leader from the workers side at the NJNC and they attended in that capacity," Alexander, who also leads the team, said.

In an audio address to Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe members late on Monday, secretary-general Raymond Majongwe indicated Mavima had promised unions a meeting with President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Asked if teachers would embark on industrial action, Nyawo said they had suspended this decision "until after the next meeting with government".

"We are meeting government again on May 14 and it is after that when we will make a decision. If nothing comes out of the discussions, then we will be left with no choice, but to down tools," he said.

Teachers have threatened to bring the education sector to a standstill unless their demands were met. Government has offered a 10% increase plus a review of housing perks, among others, which has been largely rejected.
- newsday
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