Stalemate as government, business collide with labour over wages

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Leopold Munhende

WEDNESDAY’s Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) ended in a stalemate following threats of a crippling strike by labour leaders to government and business if their wage demands were not met by Friday.

The meeting was supposed to have solved the worsening wage crisis but government requested more time to look into the matter with its final position set to be shared Friday at another TNF meeting in Harare.

Labour was represented by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) while the Apex Council was also present on behalf of civil servants in what sources from within said was one of TNF’s most heated meetings.

“On the issue of the erosion of wages and salaries, the meeting mandated the technical committee to further examine the matter with a view to reconvene and conclude the matter on Friday 7 February 2020,” read the final communique signed by ZCTU’s Peter Mutasa, Public Service minister Paul Mavima and Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe’s (ECZ) Israel Murefu.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube who was also present at the meeting has been resisting wage increases at the interbank rate and the worsening crisis has seen a near five-month strike by doctors and over a year of intermittent industrial action by teachers.

Government is said to be warming up to payment of wages at an interbank rate but business is resisting the move.

Apex chairperson Cecilia Alexander said she will only be able to comment on Friday as she was being represented by ZCTU at the meeting.

Mutasa noted developments after the meeting, indicating government was now alive to realities bedevilling ordinary citizens.

“We have noted improvements especially if you realise we have been missing on this platform for quite a while.

“There is now consensus between government, labour and business on issues that were originally regarded as taboo such as corruption and cartels,” said Mutasa.

“There is now agreement that things are not well especially with regards to salaries and need for stabilisation of our economy. We now wait for Friday.”

Ministers Mavima, Ncube and Information Monica Mutsvangwa (information) represented government at the meeting.