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Zimbabwe Teachers Union Accuses Rival of Interference In Strike

Officials of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, which called its members out on strike one week ago, said Monday that officials of the rival Zimbabwe Teachers Association are meddling by telling striking PTUZ members to return to work.

PTUZ officials said officers of ZIMTA, considered close to the government, were telling striking teachers that ZIMTA had engaged the government in pay negotiations.

But Zimbabwe Teachers Association Chief Executive Officer Peter Mabhande said it is not true that his organization is telling teachers to abandon their strike.

Though ZIMTA is not a party to the strike, it opened talks with Harare officials through the National Joint Negotiating Council late last week. But officials of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe were ejected from that Friday meeting .

Some 17,000 PTUZ members - and, according to credible reports, many members of ZIMTA - are on strike demanding wages be raised over the country's poverty line. The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe recently drew that line close to Z$500,000.

PTUZ President Takavafira Zhou told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that only his union can tell its members when to go back to work.

ZIMTA official Mabhande said the strike is not his organization's focal point. He said that if negotiations fail to yield results, ZIMTA members will decide what to do next.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...