THE Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) has called on government to speed up the re-alignment of the Public Service Act with the Constitution to enable smooth labour negotiations.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Zimta president Richard Gundane told NewsDay on the side-lines of the association’s provincial annual general meeting in Harare at the weekend that government should move to abolish the National Joint Negotiating Forum (NJNF) and replace it with the Civil Service Bargaining Council.
“The NJNF is no longer supported by law because the new Constitution, under Section 65, gives power for civil servants to enter into collective bargaining and to strike. These things are missing in the current Public Service Act,” he said.
Gundane said failure to re-align the laws and the absence of collective bargaining for civil servants had resulted in government acting unilaterally to withdraw worker benefits.
Zimta said actions by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, who sought to withdraw bonuses, and the hasty deductions of pensions without notice were some of the examples.
“These two matters are critical for establishing peaceful industrial relations in the service. The absence of parameter walls has seen government working unilaterally or with disregard of view of civil servants,” he said.
Teachers have warned that if government continued to act as a bully, this could affect the educators’ morale and general pass rate.
“If you continue to strip away the benefits of an officer, he or she is then forced to moonlight to make ends meet, thereby affecting quality of education as seen by the poor pass rate,” he said.
Zimta is pressing government to increase salaries of its members to at least twice the poverty datum line (PDL).
“In some countries, salaries just above the PDL are not given to professionals, but the least educated people. In fact, others get them as unemployment benefits, but this is what we are being paid,” he said.
On the bonus issue, Zimta said they would only celebrate once the money was in their members’ accounts.
“We are happy they announced the month, but where are the dates? We will only celebrate after it’s deposited into members’ accounts. We are also calling on government to announce the 2016 bonus dates.”