ZNUT threatens strike action
Livingstone, July 4, ZANIS ———The Zambia National Teachers Union (ZNUT) has threatened to take strike action if government does not honour this year’s collective agreement for improved conditions of service for its members.
ZNUT President Henry Kapenda expressed concern that some conditions of service which should have been effected in June this year were still pending and this raised concerns on whether salary increments would take effect by September this year.
“Come September, if ZNUT members do not get their salary increments, we will call for a nationwide strike,” he said.
Mr Kapenda said this today during the ZNUT 10th Quadrennial Conference at New Fairmount hotel in Livingstone.
He further said ZNUT members had the right to belong to social or political calls of their choices but the union does not subscribe to any political or social dispensation.
“Having said that, where things are wrong we shall condemn especially if we are not listened to and consulted, like the recent issue of removal of allowances for deserving teachers,” he said.
Mr Kapenda highlighted some of the threats ZNUT was facing as inconsistent statements from government on issues of national interest, lack of consultation on policy matters and delays to assent to the Education Bill among others.
However, Education Minister John Phiri who officially opened the conference, advised ZNUT to desist from taking any strike action as pupils and not government officials would suffer.
Dr Phiri said it was imperative for all teachers to focus on the well-being of pupils as government was aware of the challenges facing the education sector but remained committed to enhance the welfare of teachers.
“I know there is a lack of visible appreciation for teachers, schools are falling apart, teachers’ accommodation has not been a priority over the years but the PF government remains committed to enhancing the welfare of teachers,” he said.
He said the PF government was determined to move away from the disorder and mediocrity left by the MMD government during its tenure in office.
Dr Phiri said it was shameful for the nation to have a record of 345, 000 children enrolled in grade one, 200, 000 dropping out of school by grade nine and only 30, 000 getting tertiary education.
He however, stated that measures such as recruitment of 1000 early childhood education teachers, upgrading of basic schools to secondary school level and building of provincial universities among others were aimed at restoring sanity in the education sector.
Earlier, Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) President Leonard Hikaumba noted that the country faced a serious shortage of teachers which adversely affected the teacher-pupil ratio.
“It is common to find overcrowded classrooms being managed by a single teacher and this reduces the level of giving individual attention to pupils,” he said.
Mr Hikaumba reiterated that proper remuneration was an effective way of motivating teachers and called on government to prioritize paying allowances due to deserving teachers.
He also appealed to government to escalate opportunities for higher training for teachers in order for them to meet current demands of the teaching profession.
The ZNUT 10th National Quadrennial Conference of delegates is being held under the theme: “Promoting high quality education through a highly motivated professional teacher” and has representatives from Zambia, Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa, Norway and Ghana.