By RUTENDO NGARA in Harare
ZIMBABWE’S civil servants have vowed to go ahead with their planned strike to demand improved conditions of service following their failure to reach an agreement with the government during a meeting held on Monday.
Addressing the media after consulting members on the outcome of their engagement with the government yesterday, Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (ZCPSTU) team leader Cecilia Alexander also announced that they were pulling out of the National Joint Negotiating Forum (NJNC) as it was allegedly serving no purpose.
“Federations are going to adhere to the 14 days’ notice of industrial action given to the government on the 4th of July 2022,” Alexander said.
Alexander accused the government of making unilateral decisions during the negotiating process as evidenced by “the perpetual implementation of not negotiated salaries and conditions of service thereby diminishing the essence of the negotiating process”.
“Workers have abandoned the negotiating process which does not uphold constitutional rights of collective bargaining as enshrined in the national Constitution…
“The team of negotiators from the government side does not have the mandate to make binding decisions on behalf of the government. Their consultations take too long at the expense of the workers.
“The Constitution of Zimbabwe gives us the right to collectively negotiate, but under the NJNF, we don’t negotiate, we only engage the government in consultations and we end up with no recourse.
“All we are saying is we don‘t have equal powers in the NJNC. The government should expedite the process for providing a forum with proper collective bargaining,” she said.
This comes as last week the government workers gave the Public Service Commission (PSC) their notification of their intention to go on a crippling strike if their salary demands were not addressed this week.
This prompted the government to call for a meeting which did not yield anything.
Two weeks ago, the authorities announced that they had increased by 100 percent salaries and allowances for civil servants, legislators and members of the judiciary to cushion them from the spiralling cost of living.
But this was flatly rejected by civil servants who are demanding to be paid US$840 for the least paid employee.
In their notice to strike last week, addressed to Public Service minister Paul Mavhima, civil servants said the government had 14 days to adjust their salaries to suit the cost of living in the country.
“Public Service Association (PSA), the Federation of Zimbabwe Educators Unions (Fozeu), the Federation of Educators Unions of Zimbabwe (Feuz) and Nurses Federation of Zimbabwe (NFOZ) hereby give notice of a services wide industrial action within 14 days of the date of this notice.
“Be advised that the industrial action hereby notified is in respect of a long overdue cost of living adjustment that speaks to the food basket that now stands at $114 000 against the latest adjustment to $36 000 for the lowest paid worker.
“We, the undersigned federations hereby advise accordingly,” the notice read.
This came as health workers had been on a strike for three days, but quickly returned to work on ‘compassionate grounds’ as patients were losing their lives.
A few days later, the government announced a 100 percent increase of civil servants salaries and allowances effective this month, with serving members of the civil service having a housing loan scheme as well as access to the duty free importation of a single motor vehicle for personal use.
Civil servants are demanding that the government revise their salaries to enable a decent life for them as most were now living under the poverty datum line.
They are also demanding that if the government is to continue paying them in local currency, their salaries must be reviewed monthly for the next 6 months, starting last month at a rate above 12 percent which has been the mean percentage rise of inflation in the last two quarters of the year. – Daily News