Government, civil servants wage meeting fails to yield breakthrough

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By Anna Chibamu

GOVERNMENT’S much-awaited meeting with civil servants representative groups on Monday failed to yield any meaningful outcome with some union leaders who were part of the indaba saying the event was turned into a boring lecture on economics by their employer.

The country’s restive workforce has upped its siege on its employer with concerted demands for US dollar wages and better working conditions dominating its pleas.

But government has remained adamant it does not have enough resources to meet each and every request by its bloated workforce, chief among them, demands for foreign currency wages.

A crunch meeting to break the impasse on the eve of the country’s national schools opening failed to yield any positive results with parties proffering different accounts of the deliberations.

Briefing journalists soon after the meeting, acting Public Service Minister July Moyo described the crisis talks as amicable and further said government was going to reveal its offers based on the list of demands placed before it by civil servants.

“We will make an offer in terms of ameliorating the plight of civil servants in areas such as housing, salaries, and allowances either today (Monday) or tomorrow.

“The statutory body, Joint Negotiating Council (JNC) will fix the final negotiated agreements on the public service sector once the government has given them an offer,” said Minister Moyo, who is substantive Local Government Minister.

Also briefing the media, civil servants representative groups were unanimous in claiming that nothing meaningful emerged from the meeting.

Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) vice President Gibson Shangu said the high profile indaba was spoiled by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya who started throwing economic jargon and figures to try and convince workers the national purse was too constrained to meet their demands.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said nothing substantive came out.

“We raised our issues and we spoke about them but we are walking out and there is nothing to talk about. Nothing was deliberated upon,” he said.

“The most important aspect is that we came and articulated our concerns. The government will not blame us for not coming. According to what they have told us, dialogue will continue.”

He added, “Our concern is that we have had dialogue for too long. It has always been promises, promises, promises as usual.

“Teachers are incapacitated and the position that we will turn out for duty two days a week still stands. The workers will meet as we leave this place and that position can be varied as we will deliberate on the issue after lunch.”

Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) secretary-general Tapson Sibanda said talks failed to inspire any contrary thoughts to earlier threats by the country’s largest teachers union they were going to work when schools open Tuesday.

“A teacher is incapacitated. At this moment, we cannot vouch that the same teacher will be at work come Tuesday.

“Come Tuesday, the nation cannot expect business to be the same as usual definitely.

“We are eager to engage, but the teacher is incapacitated. We do not expect a smooth flow in the teaching profession,” highlighted Sibanda.

Meanwhile, soon after the meeting with government, civil servants representative groups later converged on their own to decide on a single position following what came out of the earlier meeting.

They are the Zimbabwe Nurses Association, APEX Council and a handful teacher union groups.