Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) Secretary General Majongwe

SERIOUS divisions have emerged within the rank and file of the civil service on whether or not to go on strike tomorrow with the majority of Government workers eager to give dialogue a chance while a few insist on downing tools. Unions had last week threatened an industrial action despite ongoing talks with the employer. Apex Council chairperson Ms Cecilia Alexander told The Herald yesterday it was only rational to give dialogue a chance.

She said nine unions representing civil servants had agreed to shelve the industrial action opting for talks.

Ms Alexander said it was shocking that others want to press ahead with the strike.

“We have come a long way with these negotiations. At first Government did not want to hear of any increase, then it offered $160 million which we rejected. Government then offered $300 million which we also rejected and the President chipped in with $63 million to cushion workers,” she said.

“Although we have declined all Government offers we feel we should give negotiations a chance because Government has promised to look into our concerns. Government pleaded with the workers for time to make some interventions on price reduction as well as make good on the long standing promises on non-monetary incentives so we have to give it a chance.”

Ms Alexander said they were making progress and downing tools was not in the best interest of anyone..

“There is still room for our issues to be dealt with. Strike may not be the best way to go. We had agreed as unions. We do not know where the unions who want to proceed with industrial action are getting their pressure from,” she said.

Ms Alexander said she cannot declare a strike under the circumstances as the council was too divided and those insisting on a strike could go it alone.

In a statement to members yesterday, Apex Council secretary Mr David Dzatsunga confirmed the discord.

He said the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) of January 30 failed to reach consensus on the issue of immediately proceeding to industrial action.

“While some, particularly those from the education sector, insisted that teachers were ready for a strike, those from mainly the rest of the civil service said their members were not ready for a strike and that they would rather give dialogue a chance,” reads the statement.

He said as a result of the discord the Apex Council had not declared a strike. Mr Dzatsunga said unions which have declared a strike were doing so individually.

Last week the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) and the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) issued a joint statement giving notice of a strike, starting tomorrow.

Zimta chief executive Mr Sifiso Ndlovu yesterday said they were proceeding with the job action.

“We have been talking to Government since towards the end of last year and nothing has come of out the negotiations save for Government offering $50 and $107 to teachers. I have not seen anything dramatic in those negotiations and we are not sure how educators are expected to survive under these economic conditions,” he said.

PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou was quoted accusing the Apex Council of making unilateral decisions.

He insisted they were going ahead with the planned industrial action.
Government yesterday urged teachers to shelve the job action.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Paul Mavima said his ministry was going to meet with the teachers’ representatives today to resolve the teachers’ non-wage issues.

“Government is sincere in what is doing to find a way to solve their (teachers) issue. They should give the ongoing dialogue where they are represented by Apex a chance. I am personally sympathetic with their welfare issue,” he said.

“I urge the teachers to also consider the welfare of learners so that we do not lose any more time. They should consider shelving their industrial action.

“We are advocating for them so that they get a cost of living adjustment which is acceptable to them.”Herald