Government yesterday remained tight lipped about the promised civil servants’ salary increments and warned any strike action could only be done in accordance with the laws of the country.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Nicholas Goche yesterday told NewsDay in an interview that negotiations were still underway between his ministry and government workers, but declined to say anything about the probability of government awarding them an increment by January.
Civil servants’ unions on Monday threatened nationwide strikes by next week if government failed to live up to President Robert Mugabe’s promise made during and soon after elections to award them salary increments.
“I can only say that civil servants submitted their salary proposals a week ago and we will continue our negotiations with them,” Goche said.
“I do not negotiate salaries through the media. I do negotiations with civil servants and, therefore, I cannot tell you whether there will be any increment or not.”
The minister also refused to outline the plans he had on the table for civil servants.
Goche said he was not going to act on the threats by civil servants to engage in job action.
“I do not see any reason why I should intervene on issues to do with the strike action. Civil servants’ unions have not come to me to give notice that they will go on strike concerning their salaries. What I can only say is that any job action should follow proper procedure as stipulated by the Labour Act and to date I have not been formally informed about any strike,” he said.
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe on Monday told local media that government should come up with a position on civil servants’ salaries before schools opened or face crippling industrial action.
Schools open on January 14. Previous job action by teachers severely affected the education sector.
However, other civil service workers’ unions like the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) maintained that dialogue with government should be given a chance before any strike action.
While some media reports claimed civil servants wanted a monthly salary of $1 000, Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe chief executive officer Manuel Nyawo said the lowest earning civil servant currently earned $296 per month and they wanted poverty datum line wages of $540 per month for the lowest earners.