Full civil service strike called off; teachers vow to go it alone

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By Anna Chibamu

THE divided umbrella union for the civil service has called off a national strike scheduled for this week citing the volatile situation in the country, forcing teachers to declare that they will go it alone.

The 16-union Apex council, which brings together all civil service unions, gave the government a 14-day notice to address their demands for wage increases and improved working conditions.

But divisions emerged over the way forward after the notice period expired this week.

“Apex feels that it’s not conducive to take action,” Cecilia Alexander, Apex Council’s chairwoman told Reuters.

“The situation is volatile and polarised and the action we take may be hijacked for issues which have nothing to do with labour.”

However, unions representing teachers who make up the bulk of the civil service insisted that their members would go ahead with the job action.

“Cdes Apex once again has failed us,” said the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, in a statement.

“We will therefore go it alone with Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta). We are meeting Zimta to have a well-coordinated approach.

“We form the bulk of the members and will have our strike together. So, it is tools down full time. Our circular is on Friday morning.”

The government’s 305,000 workers are demanding wage rises and payments in dollars to help them stave off spiralling inflation and an economic crisis that has sapped supplies of cash, fuel and medicines in state hospitals.

The development comes at a time Zimbabweans are getting increasingly restive over the country’s economic meltdown.

Locals accuse President Emmerson Mnangagwa of failing to deliver on pre-election promises to provide accessible health and education and jobs to the majority, leading to growing frustration that analysts say could trigger further unrest.