BY LORRAINE MUROMO
PUBLIC service workers yesterday said they would strike tomorrow and on Thursday to press for United States dollar-denominated salaries.
Their representatives yesterday told NewsDay that there was no going back on the strike.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou said they did not need police clearance to go on strike.
Last month, government offered civil servants a 100% salary increment effective July 1, but they declined the offer and instead demanded US dollar salaries.
“We don’t need any police clearance. We will consider other methods in the event that government fails to respond positively to the legitimate demands of civil servants. Teachers and the rest of the civil servants will not report to work,” Zhou said.
He said all unions had agreed to boycott work.
“Unless civil servants unite they will perish like fools,” he said.
Zimbabwe Teachers Union general secretary and the Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (ZCPSTU) vice-chairperson Goodwill Taderera said there was no need for police clearance since their 14-day notice for a strike had elapsed.
“This time around we are not divided and we are resolved and agreed on the course of action. As unions, we have done our part of informing our members, whether they will go or not is another matter.”
A source within the ZCPSTU said the strike was more of a warning to the government if it does not respond to salary demands by its workers.
ZCPSTU president Cecilia Alexander said: “I am a leader of a confederation, so if all trade unions have agreed, I can only but declare.”
In a statement yesterday, ZCPSTU said their demands during the two-day strike include restoration of the value of their wages to pre-October 2018 levels with immediate effect.
They also want government to stop suspension and victimisation of teachers and nurses, to pay all medical allowances for civil servants without discrimination, as well as pay fees for teachers’ children, and for government to align labour laws and set up a collective bargaining council.
Zimbabwe Health Workers Union general secretary Lloyd Sarai said nurses were unhappy with the salary increment they got.
“We are together in the two-day strike with other civil servants because we are not happy with the salaries we are receiving. There are misconceptions that the health sector gets more than others while we are wallowing in poverty. We call for restoration of our salaries to US dollars,” Sarai said.
Public Service Commission (PSC) secretary Jonathan Wutawunashe, however, said government expected civil servants to follow procedure and continue to diligently provide services to the public.
“It would be surprising if anyone jumps the legal steps for a strike. However, as the PSC, we are expecting that civil servants who must serve the public will serve the public on any, and everyday when they have not been excused from work, it is a workday. It would be unjust for a civil servant who elects not to serve the public on a workday to expect to be paid the same amount with a civil servant who reports for work and serves the public. That is the position of the government,” Wutawunashe said.
“It is not automatic that you should go for strike, you can contemplate doing so. Things can be happening and you may fail to reach common ground at arbitration and decide to relaunch the discussion.”