The government has offered a 400% pay hike for the soldiers and police much to the annoyance of teachers who were offered a 50% increase.
Teachers are currently the lowest-paid civil servants, earning around ZW$36 000 plus a US$120 foreign currency component.
Teachers rejected a 50 per cent increase in their local currency wages during the National Joint Negotiating Council meeting last week.
Obert Masaraure, leader of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) criticised the government for selectively applying standards. NewsDay quotes him as saying:
The 50 per cent offered to other civil servants including teachers is a joke; unfortunately, we can’t laugh it off because families are starving.
We will not allow government to discriminate against any section of workers.
To that end, we shall force the employer to pay teachers a living wage. US$1,260 is the minimum demand from teachers.
Soldiers have guns but we have our collective force as workers.
The government is warned not to keep on stretching our patience. They will be faced with a tsunami of workers’ protests.
Raymond Majongwe, secretary general of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), echoed Masaraure’s remarks. He said:
We don’t challenge that soldiers have been paid, we celebrate that at least somebody has realised that soldiers are being underpaid but then why then cherry-pick and choose soldiers over the teachers; why not give us the same.
Remember in the past, teachers were the first to be paid. They have turned it around.
They have paid the soldiers first, they have paid the police, they have paid the nurses and teachers who come last in that rank and file. That is unacceptable.
Zimbabwe Congress Of Public Sector Trade Unions (ZCPSTU), organizing secretary, Charles Chinosengwa described the government’s selective awarding of a 400% pay hike to soldiers and police as a divide-and-rule tactic capable of bringing ruin to the education sector.
Observers view the government’s decision to award soldiers and police a 400% wage increase as an attempt to appease the security sector ahead of harmonised elections scheduled for July this year.