Disgruntled civil servants say they will embark on a crippling nationwide strike from Tuesday this week, over the continued late payment of their salaries as well as the “uncertain future and lack of job security”.
The planned industrial action comes amid escalating civil unrest in the country owing to rising poverty levels, worsening joblessness, continuing cash shortages and growing citizen pessimism about Zimbabwe’s future.
Speaking after a meeting of civil service unions yesterday, Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) secretary general, John Mlilo, said the unions had decided to strike out of frustration.
“The meeting considered the position to embark in a nationwide industrial action beginning Tuesday 5, July 2016. The stay away is in protest over delayed salaries, the uncertain future and job insecurity,” he said.
Mlilo added that government workers had tried their best to engage with their employer in good faith, in an endeavour to find solutions and come up with common ground over their labour rights, and this had been in vain.
“The failed negotiation mechanism and processes are some of the drivers of this conflict situation. As members have been advising, we now take this position out of frustration and despair. Let us join forces on Tuesday, July 5, 2016 and be counted in defending labour rights,” he said.
Citing dwindling revenues, the cash-strapped government has routinely been shifting pay dates in a bid to spread its scant resources as much, and as far as possible.
We have gathered that $100 has been deposited into various accounts to cushion civil servants who have been affected by this shift in pay dates, but this has roundly been rejected by workers who say it is going to be eaten up by loan repayments.
“Since the offer was made, we requested our unions to do some consultations and at today’s meeting we received reports from the unions in the education and health sectors among others.
“They all came with specific instructions from their members that civil servants are not taking lightly the government’s treatment of them, and that there is therefore need to take action,” the chairperson of the civil servants’ umbrella body, the Apex Council — Cecilia Alexander — said.
She also warned of impending unrest within the public service, adding that they could not be held accountable for any riotous action if the government did not play its part to resolve current problems.
“From Tuesday all the unions are saying they are definitely going to take action. We want to urge government that if there is anything they can do they must do it now,” Alexander said.
According to the government, teachers will only get their June salaries on July 7, while nurses and will get their dues for last month on July 14. Long-suffering pensioners will have to wait for their meagre emoluments until July 19.