Felex Share Senior Reporter—
TEACHER Unions have distanced themselves from todayâs planned demonstrations by the Raymond Majongwe led Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, saying they refuse to play to the gallery of the international community. PTUZ wanted teachers to join the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), a trade union federation headquartered in Belgium, in marking Global Day of Action which is about âthe right to strike.â
The union organised demonstrations from Harare Gardens to Public Service, Labour and Social Services Minister Prisca Mupfumiraâs offices to hand over a petition outlining the grievances of civil servants.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association, the largest teachers union in the country chief executive Mr Sifiso Ndlovu, urged the educators to report for duty and not to be swayed by political parties masquerading as teachersâ representatives.
âAs far as we are concerned, ITUC has declared February 18 as a World Strike Day, but our approach to that in Zimbabwe is we should go into a discourse as to when and how a strike can be held,â he said.
âThis is not about demonstrations, but just an affirmation of the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike espoused in Convention number 98 and 87, which is fundamental in any law.
âFortunately for us, these have been taken care of by amendments in the new Constitution and the road we are walking in is that of changing the Labour Act to implementation of the constitutional provisions. That is the discourse we must engage in not to go around demonstrating.â
Mr Ndlovu said it was clear that PTUZ was playing to the gallery of Western organisations, where they get most of their funding.
âIf you want to play to the gallery of the international community who direct you to engage in demonstrations because you believe there is no democracy, it is up to you,â he said.
âZimbabwe does not want conflicting issues, because we have a fragile economy, both the worker and the employer tend to lose when they engage in such irresponsible demonstrations. We simply want discourse to correct the deficits in the Labour Act not psyching up people for demonstrations.â
Teachers Union of Zimbabwe chief executive Mr Manuel Nyawo, accused PTUZ of being a conduit of Western organisations.
As such, he said, teachers should ignore the calls for a demonstration and report for duty.
âWe have long established that the PTUZ has sadly been used as a conduit to cause instability in the civil service by any means at their disposal through a hidden political hand,â Mr Nyawo said.
âHistory has it on record that this has become their lifeline because they enjoy heavy financial support from outside for survival. They are a registered non-governmental organisation who have fought on the side of opposition parties calling for regime change. It is typical that their demonstration are anti-Mugabe, anti-Zanu-PF and anti-Zim-Asset to fulfil the agenda of their paymaster.â
He said teachers could not dump classrooms and come to a gathering headed by political morons.
PTUZ insisted the demonstrations would go ahead.
âWe have duly notified the Zimbabwe Republic Police of this action happening between 12pm and 2pm,â the union said on its Facebook page.
âThose interested are free to join . . . We are doing this for all workers and civil servants and largely because it is our right as workers. We should never be intimidated by any force or any group because these are pure labour matters and our demands are not borrowed, forced on to us nor are they being imported from outside Zimbabwe.
âFor the record even our Constitution entitles us to take such action. Comrades we have nothing to lose besides the chains on our necks. We encourage all other Unions to join in so that we speak with one voice and send our message loud and clear. After all it is our right to strike.â