Zimbabwe National Teachers Union president Manuel Nyawo has made a very brave statement, vowing that he would rather die than allow his members to return to work because of the paltry salaries that they are earning.
This was after the government said that it would stop paying teachers that were not reporting for work.
Teachers argue that they have been incapacitated and their unions are demanding salaries equivalent to US$520 to US$550, which they say they were getting in October 2018.
“We have decided to escalate our incapacitation fight. There’s no way we are going to rescind that decision until the employer addresses our grievances. We don’t care what they will do. If they want to kill us, they can kill, but we will continue to press on with our demands and our adopted decision of no pay, no work,” Nyawo said.
A civil servant told the Insider that the government threat was real. Nurses had been badly affected when they went on strike and the government docked their salaries. Unfortunately some who had not eve gone on strike had been affected and received no salaries for two months.
The question now is, can Nyawo go for two months without a salary to show solidarity with his members as this is the fate they are likely to face?
Perhaps, the first step should be for Nyawo to disclose how much he is earning?
Media reports, two years ago, indicated that one of the leaders of the teachers’ union was earning a hefty $10 891, more than 20 times what an average teacher was getting?
This is not to say that teachers should abandon their demand for better remuneration, but they should do so while at work. This is what the government has said. This is what the parents say because if they persist on not returning to work when they have been getting salaries without teaching for almost 12 months, then they run the risk of alienating themselves from parents.
After all the majority of people that are suffering from the teachers’ strike are parents who are worse off than the teachers. For those with money the only threat is coronavirus which is ravaging some of the best schools.
The Insider has also always questioned which members these teachers’ unions are representing because there has been a proliferation of unions yet some trained teachers cannot find jobs.
Ideally, unions should be funded by subscriptions from their members, but of late some are totally funded by donors which means they pander to the demands of their benefactors.
There are currently nine teachers’ unions in Zimbabwe:
Why are Zimbabwe’s teachers using an uneducated approach to an issue that requires educated people like them?