The Zimbabwe government will try to restart salary negotiations with public sector workers, a minister said on Sunday as tens of thousands of civil servants gave notice to work two-day weeks.
Public sector workers two weeks ago rejected a staggered 70 pay increase offered by the government. Salaries would go up by 25 percent this month, and a further 45 percent in July, according to the government proposal.
And in a rare show of unity, the Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (ZCPSTU) – formerly the Apex Council – has declared a deadlock and warned that all its 12 affiliated unions – including health workers and teachers – would now work just two days a week.
Teachers were already working three-days-a-week – Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday – since the re-opening of schools following the Easter holidays, before the latest resolution by the ZCPSTU.
The ZCPSTU president Cecelia Alexander wrote to the Public Service Commission: “Following an offer of 25 percent of one’s current earnings which the government brought on the negotiating table in the previous National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) meeting set to be effected on April 1, 2021, which proved to be incapable of addressing civil servants’ capacity to execute their duties, ZCPSTU representing all member unions do here by notify your august office that all civil servants will, starting on April 12, 2021, report for duty twice a week.”
Professor Paul Mavhima, the public service minister, said the government’s “technical teams” would be meeting on Monday “to see if there are variations and also if there are adjustments to be made.”
“We still have another round of negotiations with the civil servants,” Prof Mavhima insisted. “We want the civil servants to give the technical team a chance and also the negotiations a chance before they start talking about declaring incapacitation. Before we declare complete impasse and go into arbitration, they need to give room for the technical team to do their work and also give negotiations a chance.”
Prof Mavhima said the government had proposed three reviews this year – one in April, a second in July and the other one later in the year. Civil servants reject this and are accusing Prof Mavhima of going back on a promise he made last year that starting in January 2021, their salaries would be restored to 2018 levels when the lowest paid public sector worker earned US$540.
The latest pay offer from the government would see the lowest paid state employees getting Z$16,798 (US$199) a month in April, rising to Z$20,578 (US$243) from July.
Last Friday, the Zimbabwe National Union of School heads wrote to its members expressing “discontentment” at what it sees as “unparalleled favour” shown to other civil servants in the security services – soldiers, prison officers and police – who are now paid more than teachers.
The school heads said they were also “disgusted” by the government’s failure to honour its promise to restore them to 2018 salary levels.
The heads said the 12 unions represented in the ZCPSTU had made a resolution at their meeting on April 8 that “the only two days members may now report for duty are Mondays and Tuesdays.”
“There shall be no movement on the part of the workers’ position until and unless the employer engages them,” the heads said, insisting that the job boycott was “not a strike but members are unable to attend normal duties due to incapacitation which is a condition its members do not have control over.”
Source – zimlive