Govt’s workers plot huge strike
© DISGRUNTLED civil servants are meeting today to decide on a crippling strike in protest against the government’s failure to honour its promise to deliver improved salaries and other working conditions, the Daily News reports.
This comes as the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has also threatened to roll out mass protests against the deteriorating economic situation in the country, which has hit workers very hard.
The strike threat by teachers also comes after the government reneged on its promise in December last year to pay its workers a festive season cost of living adjustment (Cola) — a development that has left its employees seething with anger.
The chairperson of the civil servants Apex Council, Cecilia Alexander, told the Daily News yesterday that government employees had become fed up with the dishonesty of their employer — adding that they were now ready to use all the tools at their disposal to express their frustration.
“Having engaged the government since October last year when we declared our incapacitation, and having followed that up with several meetings from then up to December, it has become clear that the employer is largely ignoring us as there has been no movement.
“So, we need to take corrective action and hence we are meeting tomorrow (today) to discuss the modalities (of the strike).
“We cannot be held responsible for any action that could disrupt the smooth functioning of the government,” Alexander said.
She added that government workers also wanted their employer to pay them a cushioning allowance before this month’s pay dates, to enable them to continue with their normal duties.
“It (the strike), however, depends on what the unions will say … but we all agree that even some of our colleagues in the teaching profession who have said that they will not go back to work when schools open are right because the situation is no longer bearable.
“We used to think that they had jumped the gun, but I think that is what needs to be done under the circumstances,” Alexander said.
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 yesterday 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.
Mutasa, who along with ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo, is among dozens of political and human rights activists who are facing charges of subversion related to the January protests, insisted yesterday that the only option available to them was to resort to industrial action.
“Workers and citizens must not look up to the ruling elites who don’t care about our plight. The suffering of the masses is orchestrated by the same people.
“While everyone else is suffering, the ruling elites are pillaging and looting the natural and other resources of the country. There is no incentive for them to change the way things are.
“As a result the workers and citizens must free themselves from this bondage … the ZCTU urges every one of them to join in the resistance against stupid policies that have impoverished us such as austerity,” Mutasa said
He also said it was clear that the government was clueless about how to solve the country’s economic crisis.
“This government has pauperised the majority of citizens. It has done even worse than what (the late Robert) Mugabe was doing when he was removed by the army.
“Zimbabwe is now a failed state, and workers have no choice other than to wage a collective and sustained peaceful resistance against this man-made poverty and slavery that workers face today.