The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Civil Servants' Unions Fail to Agree On Negotiators

Photo: New Zimbabwe
Civil servants protesting (file photo).

Civil servants' unions met in Harare yesterday for more than seven hours but failed to come up with nine substantive negotiators to second to the National Joint Negotiating Council, a platform they meet with Government for salary talks.Infighting among the unions deepened with labour leaders failing to agree on the number of seats each body should get on the Apex Council, a body that brings together Government staff associations for salary negotiations.

Government on Monday gave the unions a 48-hour ultimatum to come up with the list or risk having salaries imposed on them by the employer. The ultimatum expires today (Wednesday)

The Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), the Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (TUZ) and the College Lecturers' Association of Zimbabwe (Colaz) accused the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (Zimta) and the Public Service Association (PSA) of being selfish as they each wanted three seats out of the nine available.

There are 12 civil servants unions battling for seats.

Zimta and PSA however, dismissed the allegations, saying some of the union leaders that wanted to represent civil servants were "generals without any army" as they did not have a significant membership base to speak of.

TUZ chief executive Mr Manuel Nyawo said no one should monopolise Apex Council seats. They (Zimta and PSA) want to play big brother," he said.

"They want three seats each because they call themselves kings but we don't tolerate such a mentality. We want everyone to heard and as such the meeting was adjourned to tomorrow (today)."

He said after yesterday's meeting the faction opposed to Zimta and PSA came up with a list of nine negotiators which they would submit to Government if today's meeting failed to yield a positive result.

The list includes Zimta and PSA leaders.

Zimta chief executive Mr Sifiso Ndlovu said counter accusations among the unions would not solve anything.

"That we are big brothers is a tired allegation and we are not worried about that," he said.

"We want people who come for negotiations with a spirit of give and take as well as good faith, not just to attack PSA or Zimta simply because it has a large following countrywide.

"We want people to rise from the bottom not to come today and lead us when they are actually generals without any army."

Mr Ndlovu added: "Finger pointing should stop and people should face reality and take responsibility for not finding a solution."

Government had last week gave the workers representatives a five-day ultimatum which lapsed on Monday. It seems likely the second ultimatum will also not be met and Government has said this may force it to proceed on changes to civil servants' working conditions without the unions. PTUZ secretary general Mr Raymond Majongwe yesterday said squabbles among the unions were giving Government "room to hide".

"While we want a strong team to represent us at the negotiating table some unions like Zimta should learn to bend backwards," he said.

"It seems as if we are stifling progress and Government is hiding behind a finger.

"We want an increment and if things continue this way, we are going to cede our seat and allow those who feel are capable of representing us to do so."

President Mugabe last week said Government was committed to a salary increment, while the Zanu-PF Annual National People's Conference in Chinhoyi at the weekend resolved that the State should peg minimum wages to the poverty datum line (PDL). T

The least-paid Government worker is getting US$297, while the PDL stands at US$540.

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