Zimbabwean school children in Harare, Zimbabwe, January 10 2019. Picture: REUTERS/PHILIMON BULAWAYO
Zimbabwean school children in Harare, Zimbabwe, January 10 2019. Picture: REUTERS/PHILIMON BULAWAYO

Zimbabwe’s teachers on Monday said they will work only two days a week as they can no longer afford to travel to work.

Teachers, like most public sectors workers in Zimbabwe, earn less than US$100 month. Their earnings have been further eroded by inflation, which is said to be above 300% now.

Zimbabwe is grappling with shortages of almost everything from foreign currency, medicines, food, fuel and cash in what is fast becoming the country’s worst economic crisis in a decade.

In a letter to government, the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, which represents 20,000 teachers, said basic goods and services were now out of reach for its members.

“We hereby give our notice of incapacitation and with effect from Monday, October 21 2019 our members will be reporting for duty twice a week at the most,” the union said.

The teachers said that they will not be able to abide by the strict formal dress code “as the little pittance that they are getting is not adequate to feed them and their families, let alone buy formal clothing”.

Zimbabwe Teachers Union president Richard Gundani on Monday told Business Day that many teachers were quitting their jobs due to poor pay.

“There have been a lot of resignations as a result of incapacitation and there is no hope that the situation is going to change,” he said. 

Unions are demanding that government employees should be paid US dollar-indexed salaries. They want the least-paid workers — who get just over Z$1, 000 (US$70) a month — to receive the equivalent of US$475.

On Monday a strike by doctors entered its 50th day. The health workers have rejected a 100% pay rise which they say is below inflation. 

Health minister Obadiah Moyo told a post cabinet briefing on Monday that the Harare government will start instituting disciplinary action against the doctors over the strike that has crippled all public hospitals.