Civil servants’ representatives have appealed to the chairman of the Joint Negotiating Council (JNC), Nelson Sambureni, to intervene in their impasse with the government over salaries while issuing a veiled threat of a strike.
Tendai Chikowore, the chairperson of the Apex Council, said if the government refused to go to the negotiating table, they would consult their membership on the way forward.
The Apex Council comprises the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association, Public Service Association, Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe and the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe who have been on the warpath with the government over meaningful remuneration for their sector.
The civil servants wrote a letter to the Ministry of Public Services a fortnight ago, demanding an urgent meeting where they are set to officially press for a salary increment.
They want the lowest paid civil servant to earn at least $500 per month.
The government has, however, given the civil servants a cold shoulder and has not responded to calls for the meeting with the unions. Its stance has always been that its coffers are dry.
“Because of this, we have now appealed to the chairperson of the Joint Negotiating Council to intervene and bring the two parties together. The government has not responded but we hope with the intervention of the chairperson of the JNC, a meeting will be held soon,” Chikowore said.
“If nothing materialises we will consult our members on the way forward. There is, however, a lot of discontent and agitation among the civil servants. They are apprehensive because they have been patient for a long time.”
Public Service minister, Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, denied allegations that the government had ignored civil servants and insisted that the two parties were in consultation with each other.
“We are engaging each other on a constant basis.
“Employer and employees have to constantly negotiate and we are doing that.
“The negotiations are real and serious. We never engage in frivolous negotiations,” he said.
He refused to reveal the government’s position on the civil servants’ salary demands arguing he did not want to negotiate through the press.
Chikowore said although she was in constant touch with the government team leader Prince Mupazviriho, negotiations had not started.
She said Mupazviriho had not yet been given a mandate to start negotiating.
Civil servants earn between $150 and $250 and are demanding that their salaries be reviewed upwards following the official sale of the country’s diamonds last month.
They are arguing that the government promised to review their salaries when revenue inflows improved.
The government has been citing its inability to sell its diamonds as the major reason why it could not afford competitive salaries, hence the civil servants’ interest.