Don’t intimidate us—civil servants tell government

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PUBLIC service workers including doctors, nurses and teachers have decried the government’s alleged
unilateralism and intimidation during salary negotiations. This comes as President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has, since its inauguration in 2018, been under pressure from restive civil servants demanding to be paid in US$. It also comes as teachers have
been on strike for four weeks now demanding that the government restores their purchasing power to October 2018 when they were being paid in hard currency.

Appearing on a discussion forum during the National Citizens Convention organised by the Citizens Manifesto and running under the theme, “Understanding the Crisis in the Public Sector and What needs to be done; Perspectives from Trade Unions,” nurses, doctors and teachers’ representatives said the National Joint negotiating Forum (NJNC) had ceased to be a genuine collective bargaining platform.

President of the Zimbabwe Professional Nurses Union Robert Chiduku accused the Health Services Board (HSB) in particular of being used as an intimidation tool.

“Right now, the HSB the top leadership is chanting militaristic directives and commands passing unilateral decisions. “Nurses were on flexible duties because the employer was failing to meet our salary needs but we are
now subject to unilateral and onesided directives from the HSB.

“However, the labour that sustains the hospitals is ours and when we work we expect to be remunerated accordingly. We are not here to work for peanuts. The current situation where we have become a
laughing stock of the country is not acceptable,” Chiduku said.

HSB deputy director public relations, Tryphine Dzvukutu roundly dismissed the health workers’ claims. “HSB is an independent board which makes its own decisions guided by its Act,” Dzvukutu said.

In their presentation, teachers said the situation in schools was dire with learners about to write public examinations at a time they have  not been delivering lessons.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) vice president Nokuthula Hlabangana said what has made things worse was the fact that the majority of schools have no capacity to conduct online lessons, meaning their students never had lessons since March.

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