Thursday, January 28, 2010
Comment by Bhekizulu Sibanda
Thu, 28 Jan 2010 18:18:00 +0000
WITH the issue of public service salaries still a contentious issue Progressive Teachers Union (PTUZ) Secretary General, Raymond Majongwe is embattled in a fierce clash with Takawira Zhou, PTUZ President over the intended strike by teachers.
Majongwe who is believed to have met Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai recently at his Munhumutapa offices in Harare where he claims he was told that the government had no money is totally against the intended strike.
Prime Minister Tsvangirai is believed to have told Majongwe to pacify his Union so that MDC-T would not be embarrassed by its failure to improve the welfare of teachers after having made an impassionate plea to all teachers to return home promising them lucrative salaries and improved working conditions.
Tsvangirai who is being forced to take back his words is facing a major showdown from teachers and civil servants alike who have realized the futility of the promise.
Still a year down the line, the conditions have remained appalling as the education sector continues to be riddled by an exodus of teachers and schools recording an all time low pass rate from public examinations.
The low pass rate has been attributed to low morale and lack of incentives especially from teachers in rural areas who have to teach under strenuous conditions.
With no end in sight, Majongwe insists that teachers are supposed to understand government’s position, which is battling with so much and yet it has to operate with so little.
Zhou insists that understanding government’s position was not good enough for their members who have been operating under very difficult circumstances. He added that their members had shown a very high level of patriotism and commitment over the past years and it was only dignified to reward them.
Teachers whose salaries fall within the same income bracket with the rest of civil servants have been receiving a paltry US$150 and have had their salaries increased to US$160 during the current financial year by the government against a poverty datum line of US$500.
Majongwe’s reluctance to participate in striking comes as a surprise to many as he was previously seen as a fierce democrat who pushed for workers' rights.
Prior to the GPA, he was instrumental in pushing for strikes against the Zanu PF government demanding better working conditions and meaningful salaries.
The advent of the inclusive Government saw the PTUZ taking a sympathetic approach towards the government and refusing to strike on the understanding that the government was operating on a shoestring budget.
Parallels can be drawn across the Limpopo where COSATU and the ANC government enjoy a cordial working relationship and the union will continuously push for dialogue as opposed to confrontation.
However the dangers of such unions are that the workers are compromised as their leadership and government enjoy their felonious relationship.
Government wants to maintain these relationships to avert potential strikes and embarrassment and the leadership are given incentives as kickbacks at the expense of employee welfare.
Where Majongwe’s allegiance lies is an open secret and unquestionable, and if rumours that he was promised a diplomatic posting by the MDC-T if he successfully manages to stop teachers from striking is true then the chances of PTUZ joining in the civil servants strike are slim.