via Govt violating labour laws — MDC – DailyNews Live by Mugove Tafirenyika 12 JANUARY 2014
The MDC says all employees including civil servants have a constitutional right to engage in industrial action to demand better working conditions from their employers.
Following threats by civil service unions on Monday that they would withdraw their services if government failed to live up to President Robert Mugabe’s promise made during and soon after elections to award them salary increments, Public service minister Nicholas Goche was quick to remind them of the need to formally notify him of the strike.
He said without that notice, the strike would be deemed illegal as it violates the Labour Act.
“I do not see any reason why I should intervene on issues to do with the strike action. Civil servants’ unions have not come to me to give notice that they will go on strike concerning their salaries. What I can only say is that any job action should follow proper procedure as stipulated by the Labour Act and to date I have not been formally informed about any strike”, Goche said.
However, the MDC views government’s reaction as an attempt to cow civil servants into submission.
Addressing the media in Harare yesterday, Paurina Mpariwa the labour backed party’s shadow minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security, said the ruling Zanu PF party was violating the country’s labour laws.
“The MDC notes with serious concern the unwarranted threats made this week by Public Service minister Nicholas Goche against civil servants who intend to engage in an industrial action over their pay and welfare disputes.
“Goche’s intimidation of the civil servants, especially teachers, who are demanding a living wage and better working conditions, is totally unacceptable as it is at variance with the country’s Constitution,” said Mpariwa.
Mpariwa called on government to desist from making unconstitutional threats to the already suffering government workers and urged, Zanu PF to honour its promises of poverty datum line salaries.
She also called for the harmonisation of all labour laws to the new constitution as per the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Commission of Enquiry.
“Zanu PF should stop paying lip service to the clear rights of civil servants to receive increased and backdated salaries.
“As a party built on the foundation of the sweat, blood and tears of labour, the MDC identifies with the plight of all workers both in the public and private sectors. We further call upon all employers to respect the rights of the workers at all times and pay them a decent wage,” she said.
Government has remained tight lipped about the promised civil service salary increments and analysts have warned that this could be bottled smoke given the volatile economic environment currently obtaining in the country.
According to the Master of the High Court’s roll, over 300 companies have been liquidated in recent months while 149 companies have filed for liquidation at the High Court and over 300 workers are being retrenched on a weekly basis.
Civil servants are demanding poverty datum line wages of $540 per month for the lowest earners who are currently earning $296 per month.