CIVIL servants yesterday warned government that a full-blown national strike was imminent if their employer fails to review its decision to offer them a paltry $41 pay rise.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE/PHYLLIS MBANJE
Civil servants who met yesterday under the Apex Council to review Thursday’s outcome of the National Joint Negotiating Council indaba resolved to reject the 10% salary increment offered by government and indicated they would embark on a strike within the next 14 days.
“Herein agreed by the Apex council in a feedback meeting held on January 11, 2019, the NJNC (National Joint Negotiating Council) meeting of 10 January 2019 is a nullity as an offer of $160 million translates to a mere 10% salary increment, which falls far too short of our minimum demand and expectation, which government is well aware of,” the Apex Council said in a statement.
The stalemate will likely pile more pressure on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, which is already seeking to reduce its wage bill, amid a worsening economic meltdown.
“While we await for the lapse of our 14-day notice to a full blown industrial action, Apex council leadership will be visiting sensitive offices to protest against the deteriorating situation,” the civil servants body said.
The NJNC brings together government and civil servants staff unions for negotiations of salaries and other working conditions.
On Monday, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare acting minister July Moyo met the restive government workers’ union leaders and assured them that he would table an attractive offer at yesterday’s crunch meeting.
The meeting came after teachers had threatened a crippling industrial action when schools opened for the first term this week, amid reports that some teachers were yet to report for duty since opening day on Tuesday.
The Apex Council said government indicated that it could not meet its workers’ demands because it was working under a tilted economic landscape.
The strike warning came after the Zimbabwe Nurses’ Association (Zina) yesterday said that its membership could no longer guarantee reporting for duty following the paltry 10% pay rise, which they said was a “mockery” to the services they provide.
Zina president Enock Dongo said nurses were now incapacitated to report for duty, especially with the recent hike in transport fares. He said they would not take the 10% salary increment offered by government.
Commuter omnibus fares have trebled in less than two months. Those who stay in Chitungwiza and work at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals have to fork out $3 to get into town and an extra $1,50 for the rest of the journey.
“As nurses, we are so incapacitated and the government cannot seriously offer us a mere 10% rise. It is also important to note that during these past months, nurses never considered downing tools,” he said.
Dongo said what was infuriating was the fact that the increment would only be effected in April.
“So what happens between now and then? How will our members be cushioned from this harsh economic environment? The government has no plan to solve this impasse. We are in the dark in as far as what the government intends to do to alleviate our suffering,” he said.
The nurses are on rotational duty and come to work two days per week, but Dongo said the shifts, done to mitigate against the economic woes, including transport, have not been helpful.
“Clearly, this strategy is not working. The nurses need to eat and also look after their families. How are they expected to perform their duties when they are not settled psychologically?” he asked.
The Apex Council is demanding at least $1 733 for the least paid worker, but government, which is firefighting a bloated wage bill, dug its feet in and offered a “paltry” 10% salary increment.
“We urge government to engage us and make a serious offer. Our members will soon be finding it difficult to continue subsidising government by reporting for work using resources sourced from elsewhere,” Dongo said.
He said the situation needed to be dealt with urgently to alleviate the crisis, adding that the health sector could not possibly take another knock after the 40-day strike by the junior doctors.
In a statement yesterday, Public Service Commission chairperson Vincent Hungwe said government was ready to engage with its workers to find a solution to their challenges.
“For its part, government remains fully committed to mobilising resources to improve the livelihoods and conditions of service for its employees,” he said.
The State said it would be meeting the workers again next week to deal with their demands.