TEACHERs unions yesterday vowed to take legal action against government for withholding salaries of their members who were not reporting for work because of “incapacitation”.

Some teachers claim they have gone for 10 months without salary after headmasters forwarded their names to the Public Service and Labour ministry for not reporting for duty. The unions told NewsDay that the move was unconstitutional.

Educators Union in Zimbabwe president Tafadzwa Munodawafa said the union had started processes to seek legal recourse.

“We have two such cases as a union and we have forwarded them to our lawyers,” Munodawafa said.

In a statement yesterday, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou said: “(Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Paul) Mavima must be schooled to respect the law so that should he assume that teachers have absconded from work as he did, he must order the Primary and Secondary Education ministry to summon teachers for hearings rather than use the colonial Master and Servant Act to dock teachers’ salaries under a misplaced ruse of ‘no work, no pay’.

“We, therefore, want to overemphasise the point that the so-called absenteeism must be clearly taken in its proper perspective of incapacitation. We, therefore, urge teachers whose salaries have been docked to contact unions of their choice in order to embark on natural justice in defence of the teaching profession.”

Zhou also warned school heads deliberately frustrating teachers by submitting their names to government to have their salaries docked. “A considerable number of some school heads are also Nicodemously sending names of teachers to education offices without the courtesy of informing teachers who are surprised to find themselves without pay on payday. The system is also used to settle old scores in schools.”

He urged teachers whose salaries were docked to check the reasons that were cited by their school heads.

Zimbabwe Teachers Association secretary-general Goodwill Taderera said: “There is Matsine Secondary School in Wedza where teachers’ salaries were docked and Zimta is encouraging other unions to come on board to defend the rights of teachers because it’s what we exist to do.”

Amalgamated rural teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure  said: “It is true that government has docked salaries of our members who are ordinarily incapacitated and failing to report for duty. It is not because they don’t want to, but it is because they are not capacitated. We don’t want to rely on the courts of law because we know the law has never favoured the working class.”

He said his union would mobilise forces to resist exploitation of teachers through protests targeting examination time.

Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro recently told NewsDay that minister Evelyn Ndlovu promised to improve the conditions of service of teachers.