Teachers Protest Government’s Silence on Salary Increases

ZIMTA Demands Urgent Talks as Economic Strain Hits Educators Hard

by Ikeoluwa Ogungbangbe

As schools in Zimbabwe opened for the second term of 2024, the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) has voiced concerns over the government’s lack of responsiveness to their calls for salary discussions. Despite multiple attempts to initiate talks on wage increments, ZIMTA reports that their efforts have been met with silence from the government, exacerbating the financial difficulties faced by educators amid rising inflation.

In a detailed statement, Akuneni Maphosa, president of ZIMTA, expressed frustration over the government’s disregard for the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC), which has traditionally overseen the negotiation of teachers’ salaries. According to Maphosa, the April 2024 period, which should have marked the commencement of first quarter negotiations under the NJNC, passed without any engagement from the government. This has led to a widespread feeling of neglect and disenfranchisement among teachers, who see this as a violation of their right to collective bargaining.

Maphosa emphasized that many teachers are returning to their classrooms under strenuous and unforeseen conditions, with remunerations that are increasingly insufficient due to the country’s economic challenges. This situation is particularly dire as teachers struggle to cope with salaries that do not keep pace with the cost of living, leading to a demotivated workforce that is critical to the nation’s education system.

The lack of constructive dialogue on salary adjustments comes at a time when the Zimbabwean government is under pressure to meet its commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 4, which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Maphosa pointed out that achieving this goal is contingent upon the government’s ability to properly fund public education and ensure that educators are adequately compensated.

Further compounding the issue is the contentious grading system that determines pay scales for junior and senior teachers. ZIMTA has called for an urgent review and restructuring of this system, arguing that the current setup creates significant disparities and dissatisfaction among teaching professionals. The association insists that an overhaul of the grading system should be conducted alongside the implementation of new, fairer salary structures to truly enhance the quality of education and the welfare of educators.

The teaching community’s outcry is seen as an extension of the ongoing economic difficulties in Zimbabwe, where inflation has steadily eroded the purchasing power of salaries, impacting not just teachers but various sectors across the nation. The educators’ grievances highlight a broader problems in public sector remuneration and the urgent need for the government to address these challenges comprehensively.

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