Thursday, 8 November 2018


Teachers are divided over whether or not to engage in collective bargaining with their employer under the Apex Council — the umbrella body for all civil servants. Zimbabwe has five main unions representing the interests of educators.

These are the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta), the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz), the Professional Educators’ Union of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe National Teachers’ Union.

In April, these unions came together to form the Federation of Zimbabwe Educators’ Unions (Fozeu) to up the ante in their push for improved working conditions for teachers outside the Apex Council.

But government has refused to recognise Fozeu, insisting all negotiations be done under the Apex Council.

Zimta and PTUZ — the two unions that control the bulk of the teachers — are divided over the position taken by government with the Raymond Majongwe-led outfit telling the Daily News their colleagues have betrayed the spirit under which Fozeu was formed.

The PTUZ secretary-general is convinced that the Apex Council is now an appendage of government and would rather negotiate through Fozeu notwithstanding the fact that it is yet to be legally registered.

“It is sad that there are some amongst us who still want to work with a captured Apex Council that no longer represents our interests as teachers otherwise there is no need for Zimta, for instance, which was at the forefront of forming Fozeu to be keen on engaging government through an institution that we dumped a long time ago,” Majongwe said.

He said if his colleagues in the civil service were genuine about dumping the Apex Council “there is no justification in giving it oxygen by allowing it to continue to misrepresent us to government”.

PTUZ is currently mobilising its members to demonstrate on the streets of Harare tomorrow, demanding improved working conditions for teachers.

Tapson Sibanda, Zimta’s secretary-general said while he believes that the Apex Council has been a monumental failure in terms of representing government employees, it would be illogical for them to rely on Fozeu when their employer is not recognising the body.

“It is true that we were behind Fozeu and that we think it is the best option when compared with the Apex Council but the challenge we are facing is that it is not recognised by our employer so it only makes sense (for us) to use (the Apex Council) until we register ours,” Sibanda said.
He said despite its flaws, the Apex Council managed to negotiate a 17 percent increase in salaries early this year, adding that in spite of their differences what mattered most was that they were fighting for the same cause.

“We would rather have those small gains….In any case, we are fighting for the same cause and it does not mean that we have to fight using the same platform; what we are doing is our own way of fighting for what they (PTUZ) are also fighting for,” said Sibanda.

Fozeu’s steering committee is chaired by Zimta while Artuz occupies the post of secretary-general.Representatives of other unions are committee members. The federation exist to addressing issues affecting educators.

Currently, apart from demanding to be paid in United States dollars, civil servants are also pressing for the speedy harmonisation of the Public Service Act with the new Constitution. Daily News


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