Teachers have vowed to down tools as the government threatened to fire educators who choose to exercise their constitutionally enshrined right to engage in job action.
“When you set on the path of mobilising for a big action like closing all schools country wide you have to be aware of how your opponent will behave. Firstly they will ignore you. This is what our employer exactly did when we announced the birth of the Federation of Zimbabwe Educators’ Unions, FOZEU on 19 March. Again they ignored when we marched and handed over a petition on 27 March,” said Obert Masaraure, the president of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ).
He said at the second stage it would be difficult to ignore an idea which is getting buy-in from the majority of the citizens. Masaraure insisted the idea was inspiring the traditionally “docile” teacher community into action.
“At that stage you can only ridicule the messengers carrying the game changing message. State agents masquerading as Unionists were deployed to do this and were awarded unlimited space in state media to ridicule FOZEU. These guys didn’t believe in what they were assigned to do and didn’t fully comprehend the implications of their treacherous actions.
“The cover of the yellow Unions was blown away and the few followers who had been duped by these state agents withdrew membership in numbers. Now that this has failed we were very much aware that the employer will go for blow. The Minister of Primary and Secondary education delivered the expected message: an empty threat of firing us!” Masaraure said
He warned that between now and schools opening, a series of pity parties would be organised by the employer to pacify and divide the teachers.
“It is common cause that some can’t resist the smallest of offers. Even a cup of coffee is good enough to buy some souls. Those who choose to sellout will be punished heavily by our charged constituency. Employer will also give minor concessions like giving back vacation leave, increasing rural allowance and agreeing to formation of collective bargaining council.
“It will be foolhardy for us to accept that without a significant improvement of our salaries. Secondly we will not take any deal that is negotiated through APEX. Any negotiations for teachers must be done between FOZEU employees and employer. Like the cliché says “Nothing for us without us!”
The teachers said struggle would not be derailed and vowed not to open schools come second term. They are guided by the words of SunTsu, “A strategy with no tactics is the longest route to success and tactics with no strategy is a lot of noise before defeat!”
“We have both a detailed strategy in place and a plethora of tactics in place. To our members and the broader teaching fraternity we urge you to ignore rumblings from our employer, its expected they are panicking. Our job action is above board and its going ahead. At ARTUZ we are seized with the imperative of Restoring Teacher Legacy.”