By Harriet Chikandiwa

TEACHERS yesterday said they would not report back to work if government reopened schools before reviewing their salaries.

Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Matema will this week announce the timetable for the reopening of schools that closed in March following the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

But one of the teachers representative bodies Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) yesterday said it was worried that government was making such critical decisions without consulting the educators.

The labour union vowed that the educators would only report back to work after their salaries had been adjusted.

“We hereby reiterate that other than meeting the health and safety of teachers and pupils, welfare issues must be high on the agenda,” Takavafira Zhou, the PTUZ president said yesterday.

“No school will open without addressing the recently introduced salary discrepancies and restoring the purchasing power parity of teachers’ salaries.”

Efforts to reopen the schools in June were abandoned after the country recorded a spike in COVID-19 cases.

“While we appreciate coverage of provision of COVID-19 abatement equipment before opening of schools, including testing kits and other PPEs [personal protective equipment], we are worried that the issue of welfare of teachers has been conspicuous by its absence from reports,” Zhou said.

He said teachers had unequivocally called for the restoration of their October 2018 salaries pegged at US$550.

“Any attempt to fast-track the opening of schools without addressing this crucial issue will be met with an equal and opposing force in line with Isaac Newton’s law of motion,” Zhou said.

“Equally important is the fact that teachers have resolved that they will not mark June exams unless the issue of their salaries is resolved. It is our hope that government will engage teachers in order to find a win-win solution to the quandary of reopening schools.”

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