via Unions cautious as wage talks open – DailyNews Live by Lloyd Mbiba 15 JANUARY 2014
Government and civil servants’ representatives come together today in a make-or-break meeting in Harare as they try to find common ground on salary increments.
The unions this week shelved a teachers strike called to coincide with the opening of schools, to give negotiations a chance.
Richard Gundane, chairperson of the Apex Council and chief negotiator, told the Daily News that civil servants were hoping for the best.
“We go into the meeting with an open mind and we expect the government to fulfill its promises,” Gundane said. “We want government to come out clean on the salary increment and we also want government to explain to us where the token increment that they promised last year is.
“Remember the meeting is a follow-up to the first meeting we had on 24 December last year where we tabled our demands, so we will allow government to give us a feedback.”
Government first met civil servants’ negotiators last December where the latter presented their position paper seeking a minimum salary of $543 a month and non-monetary benefits such as housing stands and indigenisation benefits.
Currently, the least-paid government worker earns $297.
Nicholas Goche, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister, this week said civil servants would know their new salary structure today and they would have their salary increments backdated to January this year.
Sifiso Ndlovu, Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive, who is also part of the negotiating team, said government should clarify its position on non-monetary benefits.
“The government must be sincere and table a clear position on non-monetary benefits,” Ndlovu said.
On the mulled teachers’ strike, Ndlovu said: “We go into the meeting with an open mind.
“We will give dialogue a chance and for us to say we will strike is pre-empting the negotiations. We cannot afford to do that. We will first talk, and if talks fail, we will then consider other means.”
Raymond Majongwe, Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general last week threatened a nationwide teachers’ strike, saying the government has failed to live up to President Robert Mugabe’s promise made during and soon after elections to award them salary increments.
However, the militant PTUZ has shelved the strike pending the outcome of today’s meeting.