Government is committed to fulfilling its obligations to its employees and its doors remain open for further engagement with civil servants, the Acting Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Supa Mandiwanzira, said yesterday.
Minister Mandiwanzira said the civil servants had not yet formally communicated their intention to go on strike today, and they (Government) were waiting for formal feedback from the workers’ representatives.
The Apex Council, which is the umbrella body for Government employee unions, announced that the workers would stay away from work for three days, starting today, in protest over delayed payment of salaries by the Government.
Minister Mandiwanzira acknowledged the difficult situation faced by the workers, but said he was waiting for formal communication from the Apex Council.
“The door for discussions between the Government and the Apex Council is still open, and we’re waiting for formal communication in regards to that strike. The Government acknowledges the difficult and desperate situation that is faced by its workers.
“The situation is because of the desperate situation that the Government is facing,” said Minister Mandiwanzira.
Government, he added, is desperate in terms of meeting its commitments to the workers due to the economic situation.
“We’ve been and we’ll continue to be in discussion with the Apex Council on behalf of the workers.
“Our door is still open for those discussions, and we’re waiting for formal feedback from the Apex Council as per our discussions on Tuesday last week,” said Minister Mandiwanzira.
He said during last week’s meeting, the Apex Council acknowledged the Government’s position and said they would consult their constituency after which they would give them feedback.
“At the meeting, the Government committed to pay $100 to the civil servants that have not received their full salaries.
“We only heard about the planned strike through the media. We’re still waiting for the next formal meeting where we can hear their position and discuss the way forward,” said Minister Mandiwanzira.
Apex Council president Mrs Cecilia Alexander said they agreed on Saturday with other unions, which include the education and health sector, to stay away from work until their salaries have been paid in full.
“The reason for this action is because we’re not capacitated to report for work, because we’ve not been paid our June salaries by the employer.
“The $100 advance salary, which was deposited in our accounts is not enough because of other commitments such as loans that need to be paid,” said Mrs Alexander.
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) president Mr Richard Gundane confirmed that teachers would not report for work starting today until they receive their salaries on July 7.
“The strike is a clear statement to the Government that workers’ salaries should never be delayed. What they thought was a solution did not work for us.
“Most of the workers got less than $20 or nothing at all from the $100 because of loans. We want to be capacitated to go to work, but Government is making it impossible,” said Mr Gundane.
In a statement, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary- general Mr Raymond Majongwe said they were speaking with one voice with the rest of the unions.
“Meaningless dialogue has not produced the desired outcome. We simply want the Government to pay us on time and, stick to the traditional pay dates. We’re in support of the decision to go on strike from July 5 to July 7, 2016,” said Mr Majongwe.
According to the new pay dates schedule, members of the Zimbabwe National Army were paid on June 27, followed by police and prison officers on June 30.
The education sector will be paid on July 7 followed by health workers and the rest of the civil service on July 14. Pensioners will get their dues on July 19. herald