By Obey Manayiti | NewsDay |
Civil servants are today convening an urgent meeting to discuss remuneration for their members in the wake of calls by some Apex Council members for an industrial action to arm-twist government into improving workers conditions of service.
Today’s meeting comes after the government last month ignored their previous set of proposals, which include getting salaries in hard currency or matching the salaries with the prevailing interbank exchange rate, non-monetary incentives in the form of monthly grocery, school fees and free accommodation.
In an interview yesterday, Apex Council organising secretary Charles Chinosengwa said the situation was now untenable, hence the urgent meeting.
“Tomorrow [today], we are going to have a full Apex Council meeting and all the 14 members will be present. The agenda is to discuss the cost of living adjustment and the way forward,” he said.
“We are still waiting for feedback from government on our demands, but we know that those who are responsible are outside the country in Geneva for an [International Labour Organisation] ILO meeting. However, we cannot continue keeping quiet because prices are shooting up on a daily basis.
“We submitted a position paper recently to government, but some of the demands have been overtaken by the current situation.
“Looking at what is happening now, we need to come up with an urgent meeting because government has not responded to us. We cannot continue keeping quiet as if everything is normal.”
Although he refused to discuss the mooted industrial action, his colleagues in the Apex Council are reportedly pushing for an immediate industrial action to force government to act.
Some accused the government of frustrating their demands by failing to act on them.
Since the beginning of year, civil servants have been pushing government for a pay rise.
Initially, they were demanding a minimum of $1 700 salary, but the government spurned it, offering a $400 million deal that was grudgingly accepted.
NewsDay is in possession of a position paper submitted on May 27 to government, where civil servants threatened to embark on a potentially-crippling industrial action that was previously shelved, claiming it is now inevitable because the government had failed to act on their demands.
In the position paper, the Apex Council said even if government was to offer a minimum salary of $1 700, it had been eroded by the rising cost of living.
“As Apex Council, we have always negotiated in good faith despite the employer’s excuses and lack of seriousness in addressing the workers concerns,” the position paper read.
“This has caused despondency in our membership, who are labelling the Apex Council leadership as weak, incompetent, complicit and toothless bulldogs who are siding with the employer.
“Let it be known that our members have been patient and tolerant for a long time and we are now advocating to invoke the earlier strike notice. We are calling for an immediate review of our conditions of service through constructive negotiations, where sincerity should take precedence for urgent implementation of agreed positions.”
Meanwhile, Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) said its members would withdraw their labour from June 18 to 21 in protest against underpayment.
“ARTUZ consulted teachers across the country through physical meetings and online engagements. The teachers resolved and committed themselves to fight for a living wage.
“Teachers are ready to face the brutal onslaught of the State and employer as they seek labour justice,” the notice by the organisation read.
Among the issues they need addressed include getting salaries in United States dollars, claiming the government has the capacity to do so because it was recording budgetary surplus.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is also facing the threat of protests by opposition parties and civic organisation groups.