Civil servants threaten to strike

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CIVIL servants have threatened to embark on a nationwide strike to force the government to address a raft of grievances to do with working conditions.

PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI
SENIOR REPORTER

Apex Council team leader Richard Gundane — who is also Zimbabwe Teachers’ Union national president — said the date for the industrial action will be announced in due course.

In a statement released at the weekend, Gundane said the decision followed the government’s failure to address issues surrounding payment of outstanding 2014 bonuses, unilateral shifting of pay dates, late submission of union fees, lack of action on non-monetary benefits, delayed establishment of the Public Service Collective Bargaining Council and the 2015 position paper on salaries and conditions of service for government workers.

The decision to embark on the industrial action was made following a two-day meeting of the Apex Council in Harare last Friday.

“The Apex Council, as fully constituted, met yesterday (Thursday) and seriously considered to embark on a nationwide strike on a date yet to be announced, to demand dialogue and press for the government to immediately act on the following issues,” Gundane said in a statement.

He said this was “a purely labour position” meant to deal with labour issues and should not be interpreted otherwise.

He said civil servants had a right to be heard through the collective bargaining council and implored Public Service minister Prisca Mupfumira to regularly convene feedback meetings saying “the shadow boxing going on was creating a fertile ground for industrial action”.

“Finally, we warn the government that the growing anxiety and despondency in the rank and file of teachers may lead to strikes as a direct result of the lack of dialogue,” he said.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe, who attended the meeting, said there was no consensus over how long the strike would take.

“We, however, did not agree on the duration of the strike,” he said.

“We wanted a longer period, but we did not get the support of many of the members. The modus operandi, the duration and modalities of the strike will be announced in due course.”

Majongwe urged all civil servants, including those in essential services, to join the industrial action.

He said another meeting to finalise the modalities of the strike has been scheduled for Wednesday this week.

The resolution to go on strike comes hard on the heels of threats by medical doctors, who recently warned they would soon join nurses, who are already on go–slow.

Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association president, Fortune Nyamande recently said if their grievances were not resolved, the medical personnel would go on a full-scale strike that would paralyse the health sector. Mupfumira could not be reached for comment yesterday.