The 'Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) is a trade union representing over 15,000 teachers and lecturers in state and private schools and colleges. The formation of the PTUZ is a direct reaction to the unfulfilled promises communicated to the masses by Zimbabwe’s liberation movements and the post-1990 economic policies such as the Economic Structural Adjacent Programme (ESAP).
Formation of the PTUZ
The formation of the Union coincided with the commemoration of the World Teachers’ Day, a day set aside to celebrate the signing of the ILO-UNESCO Recommendations Concerning the Status of Teachers on 5 October 1966 by several states. Inspired by the spirit and ideals of this international instrument, acknowledging the absence of fundamental rights that can improve the status of teachers in Zimbabwe and consistent with the call by teachers for a truly teacher-centred trade union, one would certainly acknowledge that the formation of the PTUZ on 5 October 1997 was well intended and not a mere coincidence.
It is worth realising that the trade union space in the education sector, particularly the primary and secondary school sector was not democratised and government amply demonstrated this through the enactment of the Education Act of 1987. In one of the sections, the Act unambiguously stated that the Secretary for Education shall only recognise one teachers’ organisation. This provision, which was later on repealed in 2003, was outside the powers of the Constitution which in Section 21 confers the freedom of association. Forming another teacher’s organisation in light of the 1987 Education Act epitomises the confrontational relationship that exists between the PTUZ and Government.
When PTUZ applied for registration, Government refused to give it a legal identity. The Union had to seek redress at the High Court. After the matter was heard a ruling was passed in the Union’s favour and the government was compelled to register the PTUZ. Eventually, the PTUZ was registered by the Minister of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare on 29 March 1999 in terms of section 24 of the Public Service Act [Chapter 16:4] and sections 4 and 5 of Statutory Instrument 45 of 1998 - Public Service [Formation and Recognition of Associations]Regulations, 1998.
A dynamic, pioneering, forward-thinking and liberal trade union capable of articulating and championing the cause of teachers and lecturers in Zimbabwe and of acting in defence of the nation’s education system.
To provide teachers and lecturers with the best trade union services for their full participation in nation building by ensuring that education sector workers are well informed about their professional, labour and human rights and are willing to act in defence of these rights.
- To negotiate for competitive salaries and the best working conditions for teachers.
- To foster a tripartite panorama in education among parents, teachers and government to achieve meaningful results and development.
- To raise teachers’ awareness of their rights and responsibilities, based on human rights, individual and collective freedoms through trade union education programmes.
- To promote the resolution of gender-related issues in the education system.
- To cooperate with trade unions or federation of trade unions, civil society and private sector organisations in the development of schemes mutually beneficial to all members.
- To promote research and publication by teachers through the Union’s Research Unit.
- To promote closer cooperation between schools and industry and commerce for education to be relevant to the world of work