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Govt, civil servants head for showdown

The deteriorating environment has been worsened by the depreciation of the local currency against the dollar, fuelling a rise in the price of basic goods and services.

Government and its employees are heading for a showdown as workers’ unions are increasingly frustrated by the lack of progress in negotiations for a salary review amid a deteriorating economic environment.

The deteriorating environment has been worsened by the depreciation of the local currency against the dollar, fuelling a rise in the price of basic goods and services.

In a statement yesterday, the Zimbabwe Congress of Public Sector Trade Unions (ZCPSTU) expressed its frustration over deteriorating economic conditions and a lack of progress on salary negotiations.

“As government workers, we have borne the brunt of the current economic downturn. We have watched the value of our wages getting eroded daily to the extent that we are now chronically incapacitated,” he said.

“Our lives and welfare have become a nightmare, and the delay in holding an NJNC [National Joint Negotiating Council] three months into the first quarter clearly shows the employer’s lack of concern towards our plight much against the standard practice of quarterly negotiations.”

Civil servants earn a minimum of US$350 per month plus a local currency allowance.

ZCPSTU president Goodwill Taderera wrote to Public Service minister  July Moyo urging him to urgently convene the NJNC to tackle the escalating crisis concerning civil servants’ salaries.

“The noble calling of public service should neither be a silent promise of hardship nor a path to poverty. Yet, many civil service workers are now submerged in financial distress, finding it challenging to uphold their roles and provide for their families,” Taderera said.

NJNC, a collaborative platform bringing together government representatives and civil service unions, serves as a vital forum to explore viable solutions and negotiate in good faith.

“A motivated civil service is the backbone of efficient and effective public administration. Their welfare is directly correlated with the welfare of the nation,” he said.

Moyo has not responded to the letter and efforts to get his comment were futile as he did not pick calls.

The Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) has also called on the government to address the “dire consequences”, adding that its members were “grappling with abysmally low salaries that fail to keep pace with the rising cost of living.

It said the low wages “undermine the morale and well-being” of teachers and their ability to contribute to the economy.

“The prolonged inaction and disregard for our concerns have dire consequences that cannot be ignored any longer,” Zimta said.

The union highlighted the plight of retired teachers, many of whom “are struggling to make ends meet, as their pensions fall short of covering basic necessities.”

Zimta called the government’s lack of support for retirees “a callous disregard for those who have served our country faithfully”.

It warned that the government’s “procrastination of improved salaries beyond March 2024 will be a silent declaration of conflict of rights and interests likely to escalate to a dispute.”

The union is urging teachers to “engage in their work circles in the mobilisation of solidarity,” suggesting the possibility of industrial action.

“We call upon the public to stand in solidarity with us, as teachers of their beloved sons and daughters, in pressuring the government to take concrete steps towards resolving these critical issues,” the statement read.

In the private sector, there is also discontent among workers over poor salaries, with some being owed outstanding salaries dating back as far back as last year.

There are also calls in the private sector for United States dollar salaries if workers are to make ends meet.

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