Zimbabwe teachers call off strike

Teachers in Zimbabwe have called off a strike despite their wage demands not being met, the education minister saysTeachers in Zimbabwe have called off a strike despite their wage demands not being met, the education minister says.

David Coltart said the government had no money to raise their salaries, but he had agreed to help teachers by giving their children free schooling.

Teachers’ groups said they accepted the government was struggling for funds and needed time to raise revenue.

Teachers have been paid $100 a month in foreign currency since February, but trade unions had wanted much more.

The new term begins on Tuesday, and Mr Coltart has been in protracted talks with unions and foreign aid donors to make sure the schools reopened on time.

He said although the schools would be open, the education system was a “shadow” of what it had been.

“The doors may open, there may be children in the classrooms and teachers teaching, but there are very few textbooks in the rural areas and many schools do not have roofs or doors or windows,” he told the BBC.

‘Responsible’

Mr Coltart, a former opposition activist, said the state of the service was down to two decades of neglect by President Robert Mugabe’s government.

Raymond Majongwe, head of the Progressive Teachers Union, said going back to work was the “responsible” thing to do.

“We are appealing to our members to go to classes tomorrow [Tuesday] while we allow the government to raise funds so that we can get reasonable salaries,” he said.

Zimbabwe’s economic collapse left the country’s currency virtually worthless – and many civil servants unable to afford the bus fare to work.

The new power-sharing government managed to persuade many government employees to return to work in February by paying them in foreign currency and agreeing to wages reviews.

Source: BBC