By Staff Reporter
PROGRESSIVE Teachers union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou has accused leaders of the Apex Council of accepting government bribes to weaken their resolve to continue pressing for improved wages for civil servants.
Apex Council is the main negotiating arm for Zimbabwean civil servants.
Together with teachers unions such as PTUZ and ZIMTA, Apex Council has led the push for better wages and improved working conditions for government’s workforce.
However, divisions have often emerged among the representative groups over strategy on how to best tackle contentious labour issues with government.
PTUZ, a militant group often accused of dabbling in opposition politics by authorities, has maintained a robust stance in tackling government even when partners in the Apex Council have accepted some government concessions.
Against that background, PTUZ feels betrayed by its partner and has released a strongly worded statement accusing allies of double standards.
Said Zhou in a statement, “The real traitors or architects of civil servants suffering and poverty are Apex Council leaders whose hands are greased by gvt to betray workers through landing posts in gvt parastatals where they receive hefty emoluments in foreign currency.
“No amount of misinformation, disinformation and outright lies can fool teachers, who in essence are professionals gifted with critical thought and rigorous analysis that can unravel betrayal after betrayal by Apex Council leaders.
“Gvt must mellow down to a more constructive approach permeable to reason and facts rather that believing a casus belli (an excuse) proffered by Apex Council in which they see opposition politics in genuine labour issues.
“Positive criticism nourishes leadership while self-pollination stifles debate, is parochial and weakens the ultimate output. Lies have short legs and capital and labour are strange bad fellows.”
Zhou added, “The moment labour leaders whip members to accept hogwash and starvation salaries, such leaders would have stopped to represent workers and must be jettisoned from leadership.
“Social dialogue fosters industrial harmony and productivity, as opposed to collective begging, threats and outright fabrication of reality. Section 65 of the constitution is clear on workers’ rights and collective bargaining. Why Apex cling to a moribund, archaic and obsolete Statutory Instrument 141 of 1997 as opposed to section 65 of the constitution baffles logic and common sense.”
Civil servants are up in arms with government for failure to reinstate their US dollar wages they used to receive before the unpopular migration to the much-resented Zimbabwean currency to pay wages.
This has seen endless strike actions fronted by the educators and health workers, something that has often elicited endless threats by government, summary dismissals and other harsh forms of enforcing discipline.
But PTUZ is adamant about its position.
Added Zhou, “Workers are not stupid and must never be taken for granted by gullible leaders whose speciality is romance with gvt and betrayal of workers’ interests.
“Indeed, government workers, be it teachers, soldiers, police officers, health personnel etc have a dispute of right emanating from gvt unilateral reduction of their salaries from US$520 to US$550 (for teachers) in October 2018 to the current US$140.
“This is a reality that eroded the purchasing power of gvt workers’ pay and there is no justification for the unbridled exploitation of teachers in particular, and gvt workers in general.”