‘Coup’ bid by ministry official angers teachers union

Zimstar News

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Ptuz) has reacted strongly to claims by an official the education ministry represented two thirds of Zimbabwean teachers who were not affiliated to any of the country’s teachers unions.

Under-fire Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro touched a raw nerve when he was quoted as saying, “the ministry also represents about two-thirds of the teachers who are not subscribing to any union”.

In a statement Tuesday, Ptuz president Takavafira Zhou slammed the controversial ministry official for “urinating” on teachers through utterances “demeaning” of the country’s educators.

Said Zhou, “Fundamentally, Ndoro is trying to water down the importance of Unions on the basis of a false pretext that they represent one third of teachers in Zimbabwe.

“For the avoidance of doubt, this is a lie. We have 140 000 teachers in Zimbabwe, and for Ndoro to claim that unionised members are 46 666 is a travesty of reality and dangerous misinformation.

“We challenge Ndoro to back up his assertions by showing us the density of unionised teachers across the union divide.”

Zhou described Ndoro’s claims as “dangerous, acidic, arid and toxic”.

He added, “Such misrepresentation of facts and insults of teacher unions cannot be taken lightly.

“It explains gvt unilateralism and reluctance to move away from the rusty, archaic, obsolete and moribund Statutory Instrument 141 of 1997 to section 65 of the Constitution.

“One wonders how a line Ministry has suddenly metamorphosised into trade unionism. It also reveals how gvt has been unilaterally giving starvation wages to teachers because it has been negotiating with itself through the self appointing Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.”

The teachers union boss said the apparent coup attempt is also tantamount to unfair labour practice.

“To all unionised members and all teacher union leaders, we cannot allow Taungana Ndoro to urinate upon us and tell us it’s raining.

“It’s high time we stop his cold and calculated educational vandalism or else there would be nothing left soon of the teaching profession.”

“Yet in an attempt to deflate his bubble lets resolve the issue of free riders in the same manner other teacher unions have done in Southern Africa.

“But before that happens let’s recruit the free riders into Unions so that we stop the deliberate weakening and division of teachers’ cause by the Ministry masquerading as a trade union.”

READ FULL STATEMENT BELOW

Ministry’s Spokesperson Taungana Ndoro’s Unpalatable Utterances May Wreck Engagement with Teacher Unions

17 August 2021

We note with deep concern the continued demeaning of Teacher Unions by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson, Taungana Ndoro.

After a recent first Ministerial engagement with teacher unions since Hon Mathema became Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Ndoro is quoted in press to have said “We welcome all unions who represent teachers for the betterment of the educational system. However, the ministry also represents about two-thirds of the teachers who are not subscribing to any union.

Fundamentally, Ndoro is trying to water down the importance of Unions on the basis of a false pretext that they represent one third of teachers in Zimbabwe.

For the avoidance of doubt, this is a lie. We have 140 000 teachers in Zimbabwe, and for Ndoro to claim that unionised members are 46 666 is a travesty of reality and dangerous misinformation. We challenge Ndoro to back up his assertions by showing us the density of unionised teachers across the union divide.

Ndoro also makes a dangerous, acidic, arid and toxic assertion that the Ministry has taken a paternalistic approach of representing the majority of teachers (two thirds) that are not unionised. The Big question, and problem of all problems and evil of all evils is who has appointed Ministry the representative of these teachers? Such misrepresentation of facts and insults of teacher unions cannot be taken lightly. It explains gvt unilateralism and reluctance to move away from the rusty, archaic, obsolete and moribund Statutory Instrument 141 of 1997 to section 65 of the Constitution. One wonders how a line Ministry has suddenly metamorphosised into trade unionism. It also reveals how gvt has been unilaterally giving starvation wages to teachers because it has been negotiating with itself through the self appointing Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.

Above all, it unravels gvt reluctance to follow what other Southern African countries have done on free rider teachers. Fundamentally, other gvts in Southern Africa have allowed teacher unions to levy non union members a levy that is used to cover negotiation process where they also benefit.

By no means is this flouting freedom of association as such members are only levied money that also assist in negotiation process that benefit them. Such a levy does not force them to join any union but only to contribute to a process that also benefit them. Another alternative would have been to exclude them from benefits that accrue from Unions’ engagement with gvt.

That however would be tantamount to discrimination which is not permissible in the constitution. In other Southern African countries free riders are levied a subscription that is an average of all unions’ subscriptions, with their subscriptions distributed to Unions on the basis of ratio of the density of their members.

The pretext is that registered unions play a crucial role that benefit even non members. We have submitted all these suggestions but gvt has been reluctant to make this a reality because it is happy to divide teacher unions or allow the Ministry to misrepresent teachers as reflected by Ndoro. It is clear that maximum co-operation with Ministry may not be possible until it stops to misrepresent and divide teachers.

A line Ministry can never represent teachers. But that we have learnt through Ndoro that the Ministry does that in Zimbabwe is not only callous, degrading and deceitful, but also a monument of Zimbabwean injustice and tantamount to unfair labour practice.

It is, however, a wake-up call to all non unionised teachers. The current tragedy and poverty of teachers is because such teachers have decided to be misrepresented by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education on labour issues which enjoys teachers’ poverty, disarticulation and marginalisation. It now explains why only allowances for school heads, deputy heads, TICs and HODs were the ones approved and not a host of other allowances such as ECD allowance, bloated class allowance, composit class allowance, class teacher allowance etc. The idea is to strengthen the instruments of coercion by abuse of heads, deputy heads, TICs and HODs. The truth must be realised that only united teachers across the teaching fraternity can fight and win battles that would improve the plight of all teachers. The allowances must be enjoyed by most teachers and never abused to divide teachers.

To all unionised members and all teacher union leaders, we cannot allow Taungana Ndoro to urinate upon us and tell us it’s raining. Its high time we stop his cold and calculated educational vandalism or else there would be nothing left soon of the teaching profession. The guy has done enough to ridicule teachers and the education system in so short a time. Yet in an attempt to deflate his bubble lets resolve the issue of free riders in the same manner other teacher unions have done in Southern Africa. But before that happens let’s recruit the free riders into Unions so that we stop the deliberate weakening and division of teachers’ cause by the Ministry masquerading as a trade union. United we stand, and divided we fall.

Venceremos

Dr Takavafira M. Zhou (Ptuz President)