Teachers have implored the government to urgently review their salaries to US$1 260 per month for them to make ends meet and threatened a crippling nationwide strike.

Initially, teachers were demanding the restoration of their pre-October 2018 salaries of US$540 but raised the figure to US$840 at the last National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC).

On Wednesday, teachers held a crisis meeting in Harare and resolved that the employer should increase their salaries to US$1 260.

The crisis meeting sought to interrogate challenges faced by education sector employees.

Speaking to NewsDay, Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) president Obert Masaraure, said:

“We have never at any point demanded luxuries, but just the basics, food, school fees for our children, healthcare, clothing, transport to and from work, accommodation, electricity and water. Our list excludes basics like internet, savings and entertainment.

“If we were to prepare a bill to give (Finance minister) Mthuli Ncube, we could come up with a figure way above the US$540 we have all along been clamouring for.

“Our bill to Mthuli amounts to US$1 260. How much is Mthuli paying us — a gross total of US$200?

“For Mthuli, the housing allowance is just US$7.50 and transport for a whole month is worth US$7.50. In short, Mthuli wants us to walk to work and live in caves.”

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou said the government should review teachers’ salaries to US$540 and use it as a starting point for further increases.

Teachers Association of Zimbabwe secretary-general Goodwill Taderera said:

“Our last paper at the National Joint Negotiating Council was demanding an US$840 wage. In terms of a demand for a thousand plus salary, our members could be right.

“However, from a rational and argumentative position, the entry point should be at least US$840.”

Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions president Cecilia Alexander told NewsDay that “unions were justified in their quest to demand US$1 260 considering the high cost of living in the country”.

Efforts by NewsDay to get a comment from PSC secretary Simon Masanga were fruitless as his phone was not reachable.