BY OBEY MANAYITI
Zimbabwe’s main public sector workers’ union, Apex Council, has backed off plans for a national strike, with chairperson Cecilia Alexander saying the divided civil servants had failed to reach an agreement, but teachers resolved to down tools starting Monday following a deadlock in salary negotiations.
Reports of name-calling, bickering and divisions surfaced as the Apex Council failed to come up with a resolution on the way forward at their two meetings this week. Alexander said the council was too divided, but those feeling they wanted to go on strike could go it alone.
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and Zimbabwe Teachers’ Union (Zimta) have since issued a joint statement giving notice of a strike, starting on Monday.
“I am leading an institution and I work with nine negotiators. Yesterday (Wednesday), when we finished our negotiations, we came to report back and I was chairing that meeting where we were seeking a way forward,” Alexander said.
“There are unions that are opposed to the strike, claiming there are other unions working with other people wanting to do protests. Some unions started to leave the meeting because of the disagreements.
“As a leader, what am I expected to do if I am leading people who cannot reach a consensus? I can only articulate and implement a resolution coming from the Apex Council, but then, if they are not agreeing, what am I supposed to do?”
Alexander said others were of the view that they give government time to come up with another offer.
“Whoever wants to go on strike, can go,” she said. “There are some making noise who think what they want is what must happen, but it doesn’t work like that. This is a game of consensus? Every union has a right to go on strike. Those who want to go on strike must not hide behind the Apex Council, if they want to go, they can go. But they must not drag those that do not want to.”
In the joint statement, the two teachers’ unions said they had afforded the government ample time to resolve their grievances to no avail. They described the salary adjustment offered by government as a slap in the face.
“We have agreed as follows,” read the statement. “That starting from the 5th of February 2019, all our members shall exercise their right in terms of section 65 (3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Number 20 Act, 2013, by embarking on collective job action (strike).
“This essentially means our members will be withdrawing their services/labour and will not be reporting for duty with effect from the said date.”