Govt disbands ‘sham’ NJNC

PUBLIC Service minister Paul Mavima

GOVERNMENT has yielded to demands by civil servants to disband the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC), which the workers claim was not representing their interests.

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Paul Mavima confirmed that government was replacing the council with the Collective Bargaining Chamber (CBC).

“We are in the process of creating a CBC to replace the NJNC. I, therefore, call upon you all to give your views on this exciting development and to ensure that you contribute meaningfully to this process,” Mavima said.

He was addressing delegates attending a Zimbabwe Teachers Association workshop on the need for social dialogue.

The workshop was held in the capital on Wednesday.

Public workers labour bodies accused government of allegedly hand-picking “its proxies” to attend NJNC to deliberately frustrate their fight for improved working conditions, including demands for United States dollar-indexed salaries.

In a vote of no confidence in NJNC, teacher unions in March distanced themselves from a salary deal the council had agreed with government for a 20% increment and a US$100 cash allowance to be converted from the local currency salary component.

In separate interviews, union leaders welcomed the move saying its dissolution was long overdue.

“NJNC was a sham. It was a hoax and as far as we are concerned, the government is singing a song that we sang years back. Government knew what we wanted. We are praying that under the CBC, workers would finally decide whom they want to be represented by,” Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said.

“The process also should be above board, and the government must not handpick personnel to discuss with and do self-pollination, which has become characteristic of NJNC, where the government handpicked people whom it wanted to work with and ultimately denied workers their voice.”

He added: “This is what we were appealing to the International Labour Organisation and other international stakeholders to make sure that it happens. We are very happy that somebody in government realised that workers need collective bargaining as of yesterday.”

Educators Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Tapedza Zhou said they hoped government fully addressed workers’ grievances.

“Government’s position to create a negotiating chamber is a step in the right direction. We hope that this time the government is sincere and shall fast track this new system of negotiation,” he said.

“It, however, is left to be seen if this process shall result in sincere negotiations through which worker conditions shall be fully redressed.”

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