THE Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe has added more pressure on government by vowing to go ahead with the planed industrial strike if their demands are not met, despite the employers’ threats.
In a statement on ‘May Day’, ARTUZ National President Obert Masaraure said the majority of workers are still to earn wages and salaries way below the national Poverty Datum Line.
“#ZimTeachersStrike, our major tactic this May is withdrawing our labour, demanding restoration of vacation leave, salary review, rural allowance review and teacher security.
“We urge all teachers to participate in this job action, as we have no other weapon to use against the bosses.
“We have panned out a comprehensive architecture to guarantee both the physical and job security for everyone. “Happy workers day to workers of the world. Let’s unite, plan and act,” he said.
Masaraure said ARTUZ is celebrating workers day because of heroes who fought for normal working hours.
“May Day is on us again and as usual, the choice is always between mourning and celebrating. For us this year we choose to celebrate.
“Yes we are celebrating the heroics of the workers who were shot in Chicago on 4 May 1886, as they fought for normal working hours, (8hrs). We celebrate the heroics of mine workers at Mariaqana, who were later slaughtered by capital hand held, South African State. We celebrate the heroics of our own labour heroes who stuck their necks out to fight against austerity measures that were packaged in the Economic and Structural Adjustment Program, (ESAP),” he said.
Mr. Masaraure said Zimbabwean workers had a lot to do to defend the gains of the past, before pushing for new ones.
“The question is are we prepared to consolidate those gains and continue pushing towards an egalitarian society. A society where workers will also own the means of production. A society where the proceeds of the sweat of their brawn are equitably distributed.
“In the Zimbabwean context, we have a lot of to do to defend the gains of the past, before we even dream of pushing for new gains.
“Normal working hours are not being respected as we have workers who still work for up to 12 hours, without compensation. Such workers include teachers in boarding schools, who work from 07:00hrs up to 20:00hrs when learners finish studying,” he said.
He added that the workers’ right to engage in industrial job action is being trampled upon.
“Right to engage in job action is being trampled upon with impunity, as evidenced by the recent sacking of nurses and the overt threats issued against teachers who are planning to do the same.
“For teachers, vacation leave was withdrawn and one Cabinet minister arrogantly claimed that it was a preserve of the whites of the colonial era.
“As labour, we don’t have an option but to radically stand up and defend our turf. This we will do in the best interest of the workers of today and the working class of future generations,” Mr Masaraure added.
He said the labour movement was divided.
“The labour movement at the moment is heavily divided and the majority of the workers are not working in harmony. The few workers who are unionised don’t have an appreciation of any revolutionary theory to guide them in fighting for their own liberation.
“The workers’ movement is consistently suffering defeat at the hands of the combined effort of capital and the State.
“The government is now semi military and has no respect of law. They just demonstrated on the nurses’ issue that they can fire workers with impunity,” he said.
He said the working class has no option but to organise themselves into a solid unit.
“However this regime is also desperate to be elected and can be forced to make concessions. They however have to choose between impressing capital or the people.
“The Civil Service Bureaucracy is also showing cracks, as some senior officials seem to be more loyal to the past than the present.
“The working class has no option, but to organise themselves into a solid unit. The trinity of movement building comes in handy now – unity, planning and unshaken loyalty to non-violent action.
“As teachers, we have worked on the first pillar by crafting a Federation of Zimbabwe Educators Unions, FOZEU. We are however, aware that the majority of teachers remain ununionised. We are burning the midnight candles, coming up with a solid plan of Unionising teachers.
“We will stick to legal and non-violent means of reclaiming our rights and expose our opponent of the monster they have become,” he said.