D-Day for civil servants

BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE/BRENNA MATENDERE/BLESSED MHLANGA

CIVIL servants’ union leaders are today set to hold a crunch meeting to decide their next course of action should their employer, government, refuse to give in to their demands for United States dollar-benchmarked salaries.

The meeting, convened by the Apex Council, comes at a time most teachers’ unions have declared their members would not report for duty when schools open for the first term next week.
Government workers want their salaries increased to the equivalency of what they used to earn during the US-dollar era.

Apex council spokesperson David Dzatsunga yesterday told NewsDay that today’s meeting was meant to craft new strategies following government’s reluctance to urgently address their demand for salary adjustments as the local currency continues lose its value.

“We are meeting tomorrow (today) to discuss the way forward and strategies on the looming crisis where the majority of teachers and civil servants in general are chronically incapacitated and cannot afford virtually anything,” Dzatsunga said.

“As unions it is our calling to take the government to task for having created what in essence is a full-blown existential crisis for workers. There is dire need for urgent intervention and we will meet to strategise on how to have that happen sooner rather than later.”

Teachers said they had already resolved not to report for duty on the opening day, January 14, until the government paid them an equivalent of their United States dollar salaries at the prevailing interbank rates.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou said they had lost faith in the Apex Council’s efforts to engage government.

“We have already resolved to go on strike on the opening day January 14, we are seeking the government to pay us an equivalent of our US dollars that we used to get at the end of September 2018. We have not asked for a pay increase yet. We will not accept piecemeal solutions. Current solution preferred by the government mean we have to knock at the government’s door every month. Our members will not report for duty from January 14,” Zhou said.

“We will only salute them (Apex Council) if they remain in trenches to demand the restoration of workers’ purchasing power through US$450 to US$550 that workers used to earn before the introduction of new Zimbabwe dollars,” Zhou further said.

Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) president Obert Masaraure accused government of impoverishing them and negotiating in bad faith.

“Government has always been giving us empty promises through Apex (Council) but our incapacitation will not be resolved by promises but the immediate resolution of the salary crisis. We are only demanding interbank rate salaries, without that we will not report for duty on the schools’ opening day,” Masaraure said.

Speaking during the just-ended PTUZ congress, Zhou alleged there was a covert attempt by Zanu PF to take over the teaching profession.

“Zanu PF is contemplating Hitlarisation and Zanunisation of the teaching profession by demanding that prospective teachers first go through their Herbert Chitepo School of Ideology,” Zhou said.

Chitepo School of Ideology principal Munyaradzi Machacha last year wrote to all Zanu PF provincial chairpersons, requesting them to submit names of trained teachers who were awaiting employment in the public servive.

“You are directed to submit a list of names of all party members who have completed teachers training and are awaiting employment by the Public Service Commission. The list must specify the year each candidate completed teacher training. Chitepo School of Ideology intends to run a Basic Orientation Course for trained teachers,” read the letter.

Zanu PF provincial chairpersons play a key role in the employment of new and temporary teachers and their recommendations are highly considered by civil servants in their respective areas.

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