By Gift Phiri
Teachers are planning to stage a go-slow over their bonuses following government’s failure to pay 13th cheques to civil servants, a union has said.
The protest, announced yesterday, is on the back of pleas by government that the workers must be patient and avoid industrial action.
However, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union (Artuz) said they were staging the protest countrywide and plan to maintain “a strike posture” as they negotiate with authorities.
“Artuz is calling for a go slow. We are encouraging all rural teachers, teachers at large and all government employees to engage in a go slow in demand of our bonus,” said Artuz national president Obert Masaraure in a statement.
“This go-slow will escalate into a full blown strike if the issue remains unresolved. Yes, a full blown strike when we all put down our tools until our dues are paid,” he said, adding the go-slow would begin soon unless union demands were met.
George Mushipe, spokesperson of Apex Council — the main union for State workers — yesterday said they were consulting on the way forward with regards to the 13th cheque.
“We have no official position on that yet, but we anticipate being paid bonuses,” he told the Daily News yesterday, as he headed for an emergency meeting on the matter.
Efforts to reach him later were futile.
Last year, was the first time government delayed paying bonuses.
The government has been hit hard by an economic recession as a result of weak domestic demand, high public debt, tight liquidity conditions, drought and poor foreign direct investment, with projected negative inflation in 2017.
Government has said that under its contract with the unions, the bonuses are not obligatory.
Masaraure said the government seems keen to distract workers from the critical bonus issue.
“Street protests are also on the cards to force the employer to disburse our overdue annual cheque for 2016,” he said.
This comes after Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa in September got a slap down from President Robert Mugabe after announcing a raft of measures to slash government spending.
Information minister Chris Mushowe issued a damning statement saying Cabinet had never approved Chinamasa’s proposals, which included a suspension of civil servants’ bonuses, wage cuts, job cuts, and a range of other austerity measures.
Masaraure said “let’s demand what is duly ours.”
“We have declared 2017 as a year of demanding a substantial piece of national cake for the education sector and for the poor,” he said.
“Gore rekudyawo (the year to eat also). Let it be clear to us that those who are dining at the table will not freely accommodate us but we have to fight for our place. Our bonus is part of our share of the national cake let’s fight for it.”
Zimbabwe — which spends 82 percent of its national annual budget on wages — has recently struggled to pay soldiers, police, teachers and other employees. Daily News