Mangagwa sweats over civil servants strike

 Mangagwa sweats over civil servants strike
Published: 19 June 2019 (209 Views)
GOVERNMENT has pleaded with civil servants not to adopt a confrontational approach as they press for salary increases saying only dialogue can bring about a lasting solution to their problems.

Civil servants, who include teachers and nurses, have partially withdrawn their labour, citing failure by their employer to increase their salaries to levels commensurate with the inflationary environment the country's economy is operating in.

Speaking to the Daily News yesterday Public Service deputy minister Lovemore Matuke said government was aware of the civil servants' dire working conditions and that efforts were being made to adequately remunerate them.

"We are alive to the fact that the salaries of civil servants no longer mean anything hence government is doing all it can to try to ameliorate the situation but I must hasten to say that the confrontational approach being taken is not the solution. While it is their constitutional right to strike, the solution lies in negotiation and we urge our employees to come to the negotiating table," Matuke said.

He also called on the striking civil servants to consider the fact that the economy is not performing well making it difficult for government to mobilise adequate resources.

Both nurses at public health institutions and teachers — who form the bulk of the country's civil service have announced they are cutting their working hours to two days per week, pending action on their grievances by their employer, failure of which they will down tools completely.

This came after the expiry of the 14-day ultimatum jointly communicated by various associations in the health sector a fortnight ago.

In a note to all members of associations in public health establishments, the Health Apex Council gave a seven-day waiting period for action, failure which they would embark on a full-scale industrial action.

"It was noted in the aforementioned meeting that whilst there had been some attempts to address minor grievances, the most important grievances relating to remuneration of health workers vis-a-vis the current economic climate have not been addressed.

"In light of the above, the meeting resolved to partially withdraw services for one week, concurrently reiterate the need for the HSB (Health Services Board)) to resolve all grievances," the letter said.

"Should the remaining grievances remain unresolved by close of day, June 23; all health workers will completely withdraw their labour from June 24."

Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors' Association (ZHDA) secretary-general Mthabisi Bhebhe, on the other hand, said his association was waiting for a response from their employer.

"We are having solidarity meetings at our respective work stations to map the way forward; the position by the Apex Council was that all associations should down tools, but we are waiting for a response to our calls before we decide on a course of action," he said.

Teachers, led by the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta), have also said they are incapacitated and cannot attend to their duties everyday hence they have resolved to go to work at least twice a week.

"We can no longer afford transport to and from work because our salaries no longer make sense because of the inflation so we consulted our membership that informed us they can afford coming to work at least twice a week while government looks into their conditions of service as a matter of urgency because this is just a warning as we have no one to turn to except to withdraw our labour completely when push comes to shove," PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said.

The stance by PTUZ dovetails with that of the country's largest teacher-based organisation, Zimta which also warned of an impending catastrophe in schools if the government fails to increase the educators' salaries.

In a statement, Zimta secretary-general Tapson Nganunu Sibanda, said it will not be shocking to find teachers failing to attend lessons in the not-so distant future because of incapacitation.

"Zimta is concerned with the continuing crippling economic situation that a teacher finds himself/herself in. The impact of the economic pain has now forced the rather patriotic teacher to a point where this cannot go a day further without address."

"The situation on the ground is so dire that every teacher is now incapacitated once more. It should not be a surprise for the nation to work anytime from now to find schools without teachers. The economic situation is now changing for the worst on a daily basis and it has become so difficult for the ordinary teacher out there to survive," Sibanda said.

He said there was need for the government to give the teachers cushioning allowances pending the outcome of the salary negotiations, adding the situation on the ground is no longer bearable for the educators.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week signed the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) Bill, which is expected to improve relations between government, business and workers.

Business and labour unions had for a long time been calling for the reinstatement of the TNF as part of a social contract that should exist between the tripartite players.



- dailynews

Tags: Mnangagwa,
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