By Obert Masaraure
The ruling elites and their allies in the business world have launched a brutal onslaught on the working class under the anti-people austerity measures. The freezing of salaries at a time when prices of basic goods and services have shot up by up to 400% since January have condemned the working class to extreme poverty. Abductions, torture, detentions and harassment of the workers who speak out against exploitation is the legacy of the so called new dispensation. These measures have rendered public services provision dysfunctional, in the education sector a catastrophe is looming as teachers are incapacitated and parents cannot afford fees and learning materials for their children.
A survey conducted by Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, ARTUZ has revealed that 60% of rural teachers interviewed are still to secure bus fares to travel back to their stations. The teachers are failing to pay tuition fees for their children and can’t secure basic food supplies for their families. The teachers are not psyched for the learning calendar which begins tomorrow.
The parents interviewed have indicated that they are failing to secure tuition fees and teaching material for their children.
ARTUZ notes with disgust the insincerity of our government in addressing the challenges confronting the working class. The government has consistently celebrated an over $100 million budgetary surplus for the past four months but is failing to invest in production and public services. The government is blowing the revenue in executive luxuries including chartering private planes.
Our Union fights for labor justice and improved access to quality education in rural schools. The new dispensation is passionately fighting against the realization of our vision. Labor injustice is on the rise and access to education in rural schools is being curtailed.
We registered our discontent with Public Service Commission and Ministry of Finance on 15 April through a letter titled salary increment reminder. In the letter we reminded them of the need to pay our salaries in United States Dollars or market equivalent to cushion our members from the ever rising cost of living. The government never responded to our reminder as has become the norm.
We have been pushed to the corner and we have to fight back. We urge all teachers to go back to their stations, log in but do not undertake any duties. We are going to completely withdraw our labour within the first two weeks. We will only report for duty for two weeks per month. Consultations are underway to come up with a calendar of protests. We are glad that teachers are now more united than ever.
We call upon the government to urgently review teacher salaries to safeguard our education sector from collapse.
We warn yellow Unions in the education sector to desist from the culture of diluting the teachers’ struggle through posturing and sharing misleading information. We will expose all sell outs. To the APEX council we have run out of patience and we will not fold our hands while you mess with the lives of the working class. The APEX council must stop masquerading as representing our interests otherwise they will face the vengeance of the agitated workers.
The first week we are all logging in but no one is working. On Friday 10 May we will announce a clear way forward if government fails to engage us.