Yet another year has ended without seeing the merger mostly boasted about by the three teacher unions in Zambia. We have been told several times by the leadership in Basic Education Teachers’ Union (BETUZ), Zambia National Union of Teachers (ZNUT) and Secondary School Teachers Union of Zambia (SESTUZ) that the merger had reached an advanced stage for the past 10 years but to no avail. What really is the problem?
Teachers wish to know the truth because it seems there is no seriousness and truth on this important issue. We have continued giving these unions financial strength in terms of huge sums of money as monthly subscriptions at the expense of giving members stronger protection, representation and a more powerful bargaining power against the employer, that is government.This is the role of a true trade union movement.
As teachers we have been taken for granted for too long by these leaders. As long as we remain public servants, we have a lesson to learn from what has happened to our colleagues, the nurses.
Our fellow civil servants have been fired and they have no support from their own unions that they have been giving free money for as long as 10 to 15 years in some cases. They have been left alone in the wildness of hardships. Instead of helping their members at least for a bit of money for a bag of mealie- meal, the unions have continued putting the blame on the employer. Does it mean that even their membership has suddenly come to an end. Finger pointing and the blame game will not help to sort out the situation.
In Kenya, in 2004, some public workers went on strike for two months. The unions where they were members gave them full salaries for the months they went on strike. Here in Zambia, I do not know whether the said trade unions can afford to pay even five teachers if what has happened to the fired nurses also happened to the teachers.
All these are challenges that could be sorted out if we had a successful merger instead of members sustaining leadership jobs in their positions in the spirit of wamuyayaya syndrome. In this case, it is always the leaders who benefit and not the members… what a shame!
May God help us in the 2014 coming year.