BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
THE standoff between the civil service umbrella union and teachers representatives has escalated amid reports that government workers called off their planned demonstration last Friday fearing disruptions from educators.
Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions ZCPSTU, formerly known as the Apex Council, intended to hand over a petition for better wages to the Public Service Commission last Friday.
But some teachers unions accused ZCPSTU of working in cahoots with government to shoot down efforts by the educators to call for United States dollar salaries.
Yesterday, acting ZCPSTU chairperson Goodwill Taderera said: “We intended to hand over the petition to the ministries of Finance and Public Service, and we had clearance from the police.
“We then realised that there were people who wanted to hijack our programme, from our internal intelligence. We decided to reschedule that for another date. Probably the police had picked that too so there was commotion, but we intended to hold a peaceful petition handover. We do not talk about other trade unions. We talk about our union and we work together to fight for a common cause.”
Teachers’ unions such as the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) and the Zimbabwe National Teachers Union (Zinatu) told NewsDay that they were not part of the ZCPSTU petition.
Artuz president Orbert Masaraure said: “The ZCPSTU is frustrating all efforts towards transitioning to genuine collective bargaining. They have chosen to be custodians of the redundant and illegal SI 141 of 1997, which is ultra vires section 65 of the Constitution. The body has also become a willing poodle of the employer and completely disregards internal democracy.
Teachers have since moved on and are organising under the Federation of Zimbabwe Educators Unions. We have made it clear to government that we will never negotiate under the Apex or ZCPSTU arrangement. We will only engage in line with section 65 of the Constitution.”
Zinatu president Manuel Nyawo called for the disbandment of ZCPSTU.
“The only way forward is for workers to get organised through their respective unions and push for the establishment of a collective bargaining council.
“We need a new crop of leadership at Apex who should push for the establishment of the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Council through section 65 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. We may not even need the Apex Council to do that,” Nyawo said.
Since 2019, teachers have been engaging in endless strikes for better salaries or a return to their pre-October 2018 US$540 salaries.
On May 25, PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe wrote a letter to President Emmerson Mnangagwa alerting him of the need to rescue the country’s education sector, which he said was on the brink of collapse.
In the letter, PTUZ raised various complaints which included failure by government to pay a living wage to teachers, and failure by the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council to pay allowances to examiners months after they finished marking.
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