Civil servants’ labour leaders have slammed the Progressive Teachers ‘Union of Zimbabwe for threatening to go on strike when salary negotiations with Government are only just starting. PTUZ secretary-general Mr Raymond Majongwe and his president, Mr Takavafira Zhou, have threatened to embark on an industrial action when schools open next Tuesday if Government fails to increase civil servants’ salaries.
However, other unions yesterday rubbished the threats saying they had not exhausted all the negotiating channels with their employer.
Salary negotiations between Government and workers are expected to resume this week.
The two parties met two weeks ago with workers presenting their position paper in which they demanded US$543 a month for the lowest-paid employee and other non-monetary benefits.
Other unions have accused PTUZ of “jumping the gun”.
They said calls for a strike would only come if negotiations hit a brick wall.
“Apex is not a union but a group of unions,” said Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association chief executive Mr Sifiso Ndlovu.
“We do not have such a position as Apex Council and we have not made a decision to disengage from the negotiating platform. Dialogue has just started and it would be premature to issue threats and ultimatums without concluding the talks.”
He said Government was not avoiding them as they were only waiting for feedback.
“We want to redeem the promises that Government has made and that redemption cannot be done in the streets,” Mr Ndlovu said.
“We are seasoned negotiators who cannot be pushed into making such dull decisions.”
Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe chief executive Mr Manuel Nyawo said they would meet Government anytime this week.
“We need to negotiate in good faith because negotiating in bad faith creates unnecessary animosity between the negotiating teams,” he said.
“Let us give Government a chance. It does not make sense to threaten them before they even respond. What Majongwe and company should be calling for is for Government to expedite the process of negotiation such that we have a position to tell our membership.”
Public Service Association president Mrs Cecelia Alexander said the sentiments by Mr Majongwe and Mr Zhou – an MDCT-T losing candidate in Mberengwa North in last year’s harmonised elections – were irresponsible.
“Let us give dialogue a chance,” she said. “Government has shown commitment to address our plight and we should wait. These irresponsible statements are coming from people who do not want to see a normal situation prevailing in the country.”
PTUZ yesterday maintained its position, adding that a strike was “the only language that Government would understand”.
Civil servants are demanding salaries that are in line with the Poverty Datum Line..
The lowest paid Government employee presently gets US$297 while the PDL stands at US$540.