Parly backs ‘striking’ teachers

PARLIAMENTARIANS yesterday asked the government to urgently address the plight of teachers after the Public Service Commission suspended thousands of teachers and embarked on  recruitment exercise for replacements.

At the weekend, the Public Service Commission (PSC) published names of recruits after suspending 1 500 teachers and 50 school heads for defying a directive to report for duty.

Teachers and some headmasters have been on strike since schools opened in February in protest over poor salaries and working conditions.

They were demanding United States dollar salaries as the local currency slides in value and prices of basic goods and services skyrocket.

Magwegwe MP Anele Ndebele (MDC Alliance) raised a point of national interest in Parliament, calling on the government to urgently address the conditions of service for teachers.

“I express dismay and shock on behalf of teachers in the country for the way we as the State treat our teachers. We are talking of people who have invested years and hard earned money to get the best education available and acquire the requisite skills, yet they are denied a living wage,” Ndebele said.

“I will tell you for a fact that our teachers are now going for Red Cross training to acquire healthcare certificates so that they can go overseas. We must do something as Parliament to curb brain drain as we are losing teachers.”

Ndebele implored the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service to urge unions representing teachers and PSC to find a win-win solution on the salary impasse.

Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Tsitsi Gezi said the points raised by Ndebele were valid.

“I am sure that the Public Service minister has taken note of that,” Gezi said.

Meanwhile, school heads who claim that they were unjustly suspended by yesterday, they were approaching the courts for redress.

Zimbabwe National Union of School Heads (Zinush) secretary-general Munyaradzi Majoni said the union tried an out-of-court settlement, to no avail.

“As a union, we did not receive what we intended to get from the last collective bargaining engagement, but we decided to acknowledge the little movement which had been done by persuading our members  to resume duties while anticipating improved offers from forthcoming engagements with the employer,” Majoni said.

“The union has been using a three-pronged approach to deal with the illegal suspensions of our members with the third being taking the legal route in the event of the other two failing. We realise that the other two approaches are slow to yield results and we have now activated the legal route. Our lawyers are now taking up the issues of the suspensions to the courts.”

Teachers, who had also been suspended by the government, approached the High Court and Justice Fatima Chikapamambo Maxwell set aside their suspension. Newsday.

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