Mnangagwa government snubs wage talks

The GOVERNMENT yesterday snubbed long-awaited pay talks with its restive workers under the auspices of the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC), a development likely to fuel mistrust and heighten tensions in the civil service.

The latest NJNC meeting between the government and the Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (ZCPSTU), formerly Apex Council, ended in a stalemate last Friday after workers rejected a 100% pay rise, insisting on salaries indexed to the US dollar.

The two sides had agreed to meet again this week for further negotiations, but the ZCPSTU said the government was not showing up.

“We were supposed to have the NJNC meeting this week, most likely today (yesterday), but the government did not intervene,” ZCPSTU General Secretary David Dzatsunga told NewsDay Weekender.

Dzatsunga said the fact that the government did not participate in the bipartisan negotiation meeting proved that he was not sincere.

“We’re troubled by the lack of urgency from the government given the situation on the ground, so that’s it and we’re engaging our members to say, ‘where do we go from? here because the employer showed a certain level of apathy rather towards our situation?’

“It is now clear that the employer is in no rush to fix our problems, but we are hungry, we are impatient and we are restless,” he said.

Civil Service Commission Secretary Jonathan Wutaunashe and Civil Service, Labor and Welfare Minister Paul Mavima were unresponsive to calls on their mobile phones.

Asked if there had been a final pay offer for health workers, Health Service Board executive director Angelbert Mbengwa said “nothing has changed”.

Yesterday marked the fifth day since health care workers and teachers went on strike to demand US dollar wages and better working conditions.

The government has given mixed signals on US dollar wage demands.

Patients have been turned away from public hospitals amid reports that a full-scale civil service strike involving other sectors will begin next week.

The Minister of Health and Children, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga remained silent on the strike in the health sector.

The general secretary of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Raymond Majongwe, said the confrontation between the government and the ZCPTU was needed to step up the fight for better wages in the face of the high cost of living.

“Now that the government has shown them the middle finger, then they have to come and tell us who exactly they represent,” Majongwe said.

“I think the officials will increase the pressure on the government because we have no other choice. Now is the time for everyone to act.”

Zimbabwe National Teachers Union chief executive Manuel Nyawo said officials needed to speak with one voice to force the government to act.

“Our continued suffering must spur us to action and action is the only panacea for what we are going through,” Nyawo said.

“If we choose not to act, we foolishly betray ourselves, our children, our parents, our careers and our collective future. We cannot work in vain all these years.

“The police who are used against us are worse off and we shudder to think that they have the temerity to beat up nurses who are protesting and who are also fighting for their own cause. Aren’t the police officials, don’t they fight like we do? Why should they beat theirs?”