Education International
Education International

Zimbabwe: Teachers warn strike action still likely

published 7 January 2013 updated 10 January 2013

Teachers in Zimbabwe say they will return to school when the school year begins on 8 January, despite their ongoing resentment about low salaries and poor working conditions. They did not rule out further strike action, however.

The Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (ZIMTA), the largest of EI’s national affiliates, has lined up annual general meetings at provincial level across the country to discuss, among other things, deteriorating conditions of service for members.

ZIMTA chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu said that any strike action would only happen after the situation was reviewed at these meetings.

Teachers’ incomes below average

“According to a September 2012 ZIMTA report, the lowest paid teacher earns a salary of US$230, a transport allowance of US$95, and a housing allowance of US$94, giving a gross pay of US$419,” he underlined. “In April 2012, the GDP per capita was given as US$500 and the inflation rate at 3.97 per cent. This shows that most teachers’ earnings keep them among the poorest in the country and with an income below the average per capita.”

Takavafira Zhou, President of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, another EI affiliate, told SW Radio Africa that “morale is very low” among teachers and a strike is not yet out of the question.

Low morale linked to low salary

“There has been no concerted effort by the government to meet teachers and explain the way forward,” Zhou said. “There has been a promise of a salary adjustment but there are no more details available. Teachers want a meaningful salary increase, and if they don't get that, then we will have to consider further action.”

Finance Minister Tendai Biti announced late last year that civil servants would get an “inflation-related” salary increase in January 2013. He said the wage increase was a 'top priority' for the government, but did not provide the actual figures for the pay rise.

EI: Decent work and living conditions for teachers

“EI urges the Zimbabwean Government to enter into negotiations with teachers’ unions concerning a pay rise,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “Teachers and civil servants need a meaningful increase to survive. National authorities, in Zimbabwe, as well as worldwide, must understand that it is not only by providing educators with quality training and but also with decent work and living conditions that will achieve the goal of Education for All by 2015.”