In a meeting held on Wednesday with senior ministry officials, the two parties could not agree on all issues on teachers' welfare that were on the table for discussion, including extra lessons, overtime and reduced winter vacation from five to two weeks.
According to BOSETU, the issue of overtime has always been that they cannot talk of overtime as a stopgap measure to the issue of the industrial action when they do not know the hours of work for teachers.
"Employer has to deal with teachers' hours of work first before they can talk of overtime. At this point, unions pointed out that they cannot be party to an initiative that they have not negotiated and contributed on," BOSETU chief negotiator Tobokani Rari said, adding that they will not be able to defend the initiative.
He stated that it came as a shock to learn that in spite of the ongoing negotiations with teachers' unions over the issue, the ministry had gone ahead to unilaterally introduce and even announce the date of the resumption of extra lessons and overtime initiative.
Rari also believed that the permanent remedy to the negative effects of the strike on teaching and learning is for government to refund money deducted from teachers' salaries on account of the No-Work-No-Pay policy.
"Teachers are, therefore, still requested to reject the issue of overtime until directed otherwise by the unions," he said. Meanwhile, unions raised a concern about intimidation and harassment being meted out on teachers who were on strike. Rari said the Permanent Secretary Grace Muzila has promised to attend to such issues if brought to her office.
When reached for comment, Principal Public Relations Officer, Nomsah Zuze confirmed the Wednesday meeting and said the overtime allowance is not being thrust down teachers' throats. "They did not agree with the interventions but the ministry will go ahead with the interventions because we are doing it in the interests of the students," she said.
Zuze said the working overtime is voluntary and therefore the ministry will work with the interested teachers in schools. "It is not being shoved down the teachers' throats," she said.