THE militant Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) is negotiating with government for non-monetary incentives to cushion its members from the devastating effects of the country’s economy, which is in freefall.
PTUZ has tabled a proposal requesting government to consider providing stands for teachers as well as enabling them to import vehicles duty free.
The union’s programmes and communication officer, Enock Paradzayi, told the Financial Gazette this week that government should innovate by using the resources at its disposal in order to improve the conditions of service for teachers.
“The government owns the land and since it has made it clear that there will be no salary increments this year, we request that these pieces of land act as our increments,” said Paradzayi.
“Our proposal is that if a teacher gets a stand, his EC (employee code) number will be attached to the stand number in a city, town or growth point of his or her choice. Instead of getting an increment for a certain period, the teacher gets a stand to build his home and will not receive any increment for a certain period.”
The proposal may not go down well with government which favours a situation whereby civil servants become part of schemes it has put in place for the entire civil service.
Former local government minister Ignatius Chombo is on record saying there were about 315 000 stands set aside for civil servants.
Paradzayi, however, argues that very few teachers have benefited from such schemes hence the need to have the system changed.
PTUZ also believes the status of civil servants could be upgraded by, among other things, making it easy for them to own cars.
“We have noted with concern that vehicles being assembled locally are expensive and teachers cannot afford them. Why not allow one person to import a vehicle once every five years, duty free? This will improve service delivery in the process because there will be motivation,” said Paradzayi.
Ever since government banned incentives for teachers in 2013, morale has been low for the professionals who earn as little as US$400 per month, an amount which falls below the country’s poverty datum line currently pegged at US$600.
The recent government announcement that there would be no salary increment for civil servants this year has further dampened morale among teachers who are already finding the going tough in an economy that is sinking daily.
Teachers, who constitute the bulk of the civil service, feel they have been receiving a raw deal from government, which has often announced plans to improve their welfare only to come short on delivery.
In the run up to the 2013 presidential elections, the ruling ZANU-PF emphasised the importance of civil servants in its manifesto.
It also undertook to address their plight once President Robert Mugabe was reelected.
Since then nothing has transpired.