Apex corporation stops operations

ZIMBABWE Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) acting secretary-general Japhet Moyo said this week the civil servants’ strike was likely to spread to the private sector to force employers to pay salaries above US$450, which is in line with the poverty datum line.

“Employers have to pay,” Moyo said. “We cannot continue having employers pay workers 28% of the poverty datum line and expect them to survive. I foresee a situation where the civil servants’ strike will spread to the private sector.”

Civil servants went on strike last week demanding a minimum wage of US$630. This has paralysed government institutions such as the courts and schools.  Civil servants are currently earning about US$150 a month.

Negotiations broke down last week Tuesday after the Apex Council, a union for civil servants, rejected a 10% wage increase effective from April, which had been offered by government. The government says it has no money to foot the bill for the kind of increases being demanded by the unions.

The government revealed on Wednesday that they would put another offer on the table in a bid to end the strike. However, yesterday the Apex Council chairperson Tendai Chikowore told the Zimbabwe Independent that they had not received any communication from the government.

“We have not received any communication from the government about a new offer; we have just heard it in the press,” Chikowore said “The ball remains in their court and we will continue with our activities.”

She said that there had been a positive response to the strike with 90% of civil servants heeding their call for mass action.

The strike has however received mixed responses with teachers whose salaries are boosted by incentives from parents and nurses whose salaries were topped up by donors not responding to the call to go on strike.

Some government workers at Kaguvi and Makombe buildings said they did not join the strike after the Public Service Commission had ordered the introduction of a register of attendance to weed out those who did not report for work. This, they said, had instilled fear of reprisals if they did not report for duty.

Moyo accused the Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz), which groups private sector employers, of trying to persuade the government not to pay civil servants as this would force employees in the private sector to call for increased wages.

He said the ZCTU was organising labour forums in which they would hold meetings with workers from various sectors with the aim of organising protests to force employers to increase wages to equal the poverty datum line currently pegged at $454.

He said a committee had been set up to come up with the best form of protests ranging from marches to stayaways.

“The forums will decide what form the protest should take. Organising a march has usually been met with brute force by the police and we would not want to have workers injured. This means we have to decide what the best form of protest is,” Moyo said.

The employers, Moyo said, should pay the lowest workers between US$450 and US$500 a month.

Meanwhile, wage negotiations for the first quarter within the various national employment councils have stalled due to previous protracted disputes which have not been resolved, Emcoz has said. Emcoz director John Mufukare said only a handful of the NECs had concluded negotiations with most disputes going for arbitration or spilling into the courts.

“Many of the wage negotiations are still carrying on from last year. There are a still a lot of disagreements,” Mufukare said. “Many NECs are still battling to agree on wages for the second quarter of last year with some of the cases going to arbitration and in other cases to the Supreme Court,” he said.

 

Kudzai Kuwaza