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Civil servants strike looms

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The Apex Council has remained divided over civil servants’ salaries with some unions threatening to go on industrial action if the government does not award them increments.

One of the unions, the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), has rallied behind Public Service minister Eliphas Mukonoweshuro saying negotiations were still in progress.

Mukonoweshuro announced on Wednesday that the government had not awarded its workers an increment, contrary to an announcement made by the Apex Council last Friday.

He said the agreement reached during a National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) meeting between the unions and the government’s negotiating team were merely proposals which could be rejected by Cabinet.

Most members of the Apex Council, composed of PTUZ, Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta), Public Service Association (PSA), Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (TUZ) and College Lecturers’ Association of Zimbabwe (Colaz), have remained adamant that an agreement was struck and declared they were expecting increased salaries this month.

The unions said they were called to the negotiating table by the government team, which also proposed the figures, and warned of possible industrial action if the employer backtracked.

There is no way the government can say it is unaware of the salary increment when the agreement was reached at the NJNC. Actually the government invited us and tabled an offer through its team leader Prince Mupazviriho, who is a permanent secretary,” said Felix Nyawo, the TUZ chief executive officer.

“The negotiating parties were properly constituted and negotiations were at the right forum, so as far as we are concerned the increment real. We are actually waiting for the salary increment this month and if there is nothing, we will take this government head-on. There will be mayhem.”

Colaz president David Dzatsunga, whose union called off a strike following the announcement of the increment, said their members would down tools again if the government failed to honour its pledge.

“The civil servants issue is being politicised, but the workers’ patience has run out. All sides of the inclusive government should expect a strong reaction from the workers. To start off with, the increment was insignificant although it placated the workers somewhat, but the workers would be livid if the increment doesn’t materialise,” said Dzatsunga.

“No doubt there will be action if they withdraw the increment.”

PSA executive secretary Emmanuel Tichareva said as far as his organisation was concerned, the negotiation process was complete.

He echoed statements by the president of the Apex Council, Tendai Chikowore, who is also the Zimta president.

PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe, however, said Mukonoweshuro was right.

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