Zimbabwe teachers to strike over pay as labour unrest spreads


HARARE, April 28 (Reuters) – Zimbabwean teachers will go on
strike to demand an increase in salaries and allowances when
schools reopen next month for the new term, the biggest
teachers’ union said on Friday, as public sector labour unrest
spreads to the education sector.

Doctors and nurses have also staged strikes in the past
month, increasing pressure on President Emmerson Mnangagwa ahead
of elections set for July, the first since 94-year-old Robert
Mugabe was forced to resign in a de facto army coup in November.

In an effort to keep a lid on labour unrest, the government
fired striking nurses after accusing them of a politically
motivated move. Other workers have now returned to work.

Wrapping up its annual general meeting in the resort town of
Victoria Falls on Friday, Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (ZIMTA)
agreed that its members would not attend classes when schools
reopen for the second term on May 8.

ZIMTA, which has 44,000 members, said salaries and
allowances had not been increased since 2013, while the
government still barred teachers from taking long leave, known
as “vacation leave”, as had happened in the past.

“For the avoidance of doubt, our members will be on strike
and will withdraw their labour effective the 8th of May, until
the issues raised have been resolved,” ZIMTA said in a statement
signed by its president and secretary general.

The other three unions would not immediately say whether
they would join ZIMTA in the strike. The government employs more
than 100,000 teachers.

An entry level teacher earns a basic monthly pay of $286
before allowances, according to ZIMTA.

Mnangagwa has said his priority is to revive the economy by
opening up the country to foreign investment and repairing
relations with the West, but he faces pressure to deliver
quickly from an expectant public sector ahead of the elections.