'Zimbabwe teachers strike for better pay'

Harare – Teachers in Zimbabwe's public schools have gone on strike to press for higher pay, a union spokesperson on Sunday, despite a pay rise for civil servants announced by the government.\r\n

"Teachers are staying at home. They want a decent salary which can enable them to look after themselves and fulfil their responsibility to their families," Raymond Majongwe, secretary-general of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, one of the two main teachers’ unions, said.

The state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper said the government agreed to a pay rise for civil servants backdated to August to cushion the effect of the country’s run-away inflation.

"Negotiators reached an agreement with transport and housing allowances emerging as major points," the newspaper said.

But Majongwe denounced the measure as "piecemeal".

"The strike is not about housing and transport allowances. It is about the general welfare of the teachers and their families including their parents who need to be looked after," he said.

Majongwe said the strike, which began on Thursday, a day after schools resumed, "will continue until we get a wholesale solution to our grievances. Teachers… can’t continue to borrow money to go to work".

"In the 1980s a teacher could buy a house, in the 1990s a teacher could buy a car, but as things stand today, a teacher is so impoverished he cannot afford to buy even a pair of shoes," he said.

Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rate zoomed to 11,2 million percent in June, official figures said last month, amid a ruinous political crisis which is exacerbating the southern African nation’s meltdown.

Some teachers in Zimbabwe supplement their incomes by selling sweets and stationery to their pupils while others practise what has been dubbed "remote-control teaching", where they leave a senior pupil in charge of their class while they look for a second job or ways to supplement their income.