Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema on Monday told State media that government was invoking the nowork, no-pay principle for teachers who have not been reporting for duty since the beginning of this term.
Since last year, some teachers have not been reporting for duty, or were availing themselves at schools without conducting lessons in protest over poor wages.
“We are summoning the principle of no-work, no-salary with immediate effect. Teachers who do not report for duty or those who go to their schools and not do their work will not be paid. We have requested school heads to compile lists of such names and we will forward them to the Public Service Commission so that those not doing their work will not be paid,” Mathema said.
Mathema has also threatened punitive measures against educators who conduct private lessons.
But teachers’ unions said they were unfazed by government’s threats and would continue with their strike demanding salaries between US$520 and US$550 or the equivalent in local currency.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe described government as “a bully” which was not committed to collective bargaining processes.
“The government should not bully its employees. Threats and bullying should not be used as a bargaining tactic. Government should resort to dialogue with the concerned parties if it wants to save the education sector,” he said.
Zimbabwe National Teachers Union (Zinatu) chief executive officer Manuel Nyawo said although government could threaten them to report for duty, it was impossible to force teachers to conduct lessons.
“Our members are in a dilemma. On one hand, they have to decisively deal with the issue of incapacitation while on the other, they have to deal with the decision of a heartless employer. Given this position, government should bear in mind that one can force a donkey to the river, but cannot force it to drink water,” he said.
“The ministry can force us to report for duty, but they cannot force us to teach. As Zinatu, we will encourage our members to report for duty, but the ministry must be rest assured that no learning is going to take place until our demands are met.”
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure said government’s bullying tactics was destroying the education sector.
“As the minister, Mathema should be focusing on profiling the incapacitation narrative of teachers to Treasury by lobbying for a salary raise,” he said.
“Unfortunately, he is determined to destroy the sector which he should be defending. Incapacitated teachers will never be coerced to attend for duty. Teachers are patiently waiting for the day they will be capacitated.”
Former Primary and Secondary Education minister David Coltart also blasted government for failing to resolve its salary stalemate with civil servants and for using threats instead of engaging them.
“If I was the Minister of Education today, I was not going to be issuing threats against them because teachers are suffering and they are not being paid a viable wage, that is the starting point. I suspect that the salary stalemate with teachers is one of the reasons why the June examinations were suspended because schools are not functioning,” Coltart said.