© PANICKING authorities yesterday scrambled to avoid a mega strike planned for this month by the increasingly agitated civil servants when it invited them for further dialogue, the Daily News reports.
This comes as the country is facing a myriad challenges — ranging from pressure to feed millions of people facing starvation — to stopping the worsening economic crisis.
The civil servants yesterday agreed to temporarily shelve their planned strike, depending on the outcome of their fresh meeting to be held on Friday — after the government reached out to them — moments before they ended their meeting.
“We understand government has called for a meeting to deliberate on Cola (Cost of Living Adjustment) on Friday.
“We are going to attend and hear what they are offering. If there is nothing of substance, then our position that we are incapacitated has not changed and … is going to be exemplified by the failure of schools to open next week because teachers left their stations for the holidays and … cannot come back now.
“If we were incapacitated in October 2019, there is no way we can suddenly become better in 2020 as if there was an improvement on what we get paid.
“A massive industrial action is now a reality if government does not offer something concrete on Friday,” Apex Council deputy secretary Gibson Mushangu, told the Daily News.
The Apex Council — which represents all public sector workers, except health and security personnel — on Monday warned that it was gearing for mega protests against the government due to the worsening rot.
This was over and above their employer’s failure to honor a commitment to pay them Cola in the run-up to the festive season.
Last Sunday, Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said teachers affiliated to his organisation would not be reporting for duty next week “until the government pays us an equivalent of our last US dollar salaries at the prevailing interbank rate”.
“We are not asking for a salary raise, but the payment of the same salary we were earning as at the end of September 2018, before the minister of Finance devalued the Zimbabwe dollar.
“We will not accept piece-meal solutions. Current solutions proffered by the government mean we have to knock at the government’s door every month,” Majongwe said then.
Civil servants spent the better part of last year threatening industrial action, pushing President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to pay them salaries pegged at the interbank rate.
They recently got a salary increment of 76 percent, where the lowest paid worker is now earning just above $1 000 per month from $582.
They also got a cost of living adjustment last August, but the Apex Council maintained that their earnings had been eroded by price increases — making another review necessary.
Meanwhile, the ZCTU has also threatened to roll out mass protests against the deteriorating economic situation in the country, which has hit workers very hard.
Its president Peter Mutasa told the Daily News in an interview on Monday that workers could no longer afford to continue suffering in silence while the government was doing nothing to address their plight.
“This year workers across sectors are going to down tools. Workers are going to engage in various sustained peaceful protests.
“Only fools will begrudge workers for resisting slavery and economic dictatorship,” he said.
In January last year, the ZCTU called for a crippling stay-away which saw security forces killing several innocent civilians.