7 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Civil Servants Strike Deal

CIVIL servants have implored Government to recognise the old Apex Council led by its immediate-past chairperson Mrs Tendai Chikowore to spearhead salary negotiations after it rejected the feuding new committee.

Government cancelled salary negotiations with its workers after disputed elections for the leadership of the Apex Council in August last year.

The polls had brought in new leadership under College Lecturers Association of Zimbabwe (COLAZ) president Mr David Dzatsunga.

It is against this backdrop that the old Apex Council leadership regrouped last Friday and solicited for support from members for it to be given a fresh mandate to initiate salary negotiations with the employer.

Mrs Chikowore told The Herald yesterday that the constituency advised the old committee to initiate talks with the Government on an interim basis as the situation obtaining would see the employer imposing figures.

"It's true I met some leaders last week and all the unions agreed to appeal to Government to have the old committee chaired by me be reinstituted for just three months to allow for negotiations to continue while the other parties resolve their differences.

"We submitted the letter to the Minister (of Public Service Lucia Matibenga) on Friday and information we have says the minister got the letter. We do not know when the minister will decide to meet us."

Mrs Chikowore was optimistic the employer would agree to meet the old committee because most of the unions, among them the Progressive Teachers of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Teachers Association, COLAZ and Teachers Union of Zimbabwe bought the idea.

"We think legally it can be accepted. We do hope they (Government) will see it the way we do. The Government has it own legal advisers whom we think will see nothing wrong with the initiative.

"It is not the workers' fault. They deserve to be represented, they should not be held at ransom because of our dispute," she said.

Mr Dzatsunga confirmed the development.

"That is correct. That is what we have agreed upon. We realised that we might just be playing into Government's hands by continuing like this," he said.

TUZ president Mr Manuel Nyawo said it was important for negotiations to resume.

He accused some elements in the Apex Council of fanning divisions by furthering political goals of certain individuals.

"We are not happy with such people, they should be weeded out."

Finance Minister Tendai Biti announced last year that civil servants would be awarded an inflation-related salary increment of between US$18 and US$20 this month.

Civil servants have been agitating for an increment which would leave the least-paid worker earning US$564 per month.

 - Herald Reporter/New Ziana

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