Friday, 12 July 2019

CIVIL SERVANTS STRIKE LOOMS


CIVIL servants yesterday said they had run out of patience with their employer over poor remuneration and threatened to take “appropriate action” if government fails to come up with a satisfactory wage offer soon.

Government workers were expecting a hefty salary rise this month, but were early this week offered a paltry $97 increment per individual which they promptly rejected.

The Apex Council was yesterday supposed to meet the government for negotiations. In an interview, Apex Council secretary David Dzatsunga said civil servants were looking to declare a deadlock in the salary negotiations and were priming themselves for “action”.

Sections of the workers, notably in the health sector, had put off a strike after government indicated that it was ready to table a significant salary increase in the face of skyrocketing prices and inflation.

In early June, the government workers demanded that their wages be paid in US dollars, but government, in a surprise move banned the use of foreign currencies in local transactions. The move caught the public workers and the nation at large off guard, but has largely failed to ease the pressure on government to raise
wages to acceptable levels.

“We totally rejected that offer and indicated to government that (the offer) was unacceptable. As Apex, we were hoping that government will come today with an improved package,” he said in reference to a scheduled meeting that was supposed to take place yesterday.

“As of now, we are still negotiating, but there will come a point where if we realise that we are not getting anywhere, we will declare a deadlock. We believe that time is lapsing as far as reaching an agreement (is concerned). We are working with the reality that workers are suffering and that their suffering cannot
be postponed. The urgency of dealing with this matter cannot be overemphasised.”

Dzatsunga said government must prepare for any eventuality.

“In the event that government fails to come with an acceptable offer, we are going to do whatever is within our labour rights to force the hand of government to give what is due to the workers.”

Since last year, civil servants have been pressing government for a substantial salary increase which is commensurate with the high cost of living, but have so
far not received any joy.

The Apex Council itself is divided, with some members reluctant to go on strike. Newsday

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