Union rivalry scuttles govt workers pay deal

HARARE - A meeting called to resolve salary negotiations between government and civil servants was thrown into turmoil yesterday after being scuttled by power struggles.

Nicholas Goche, the Public Service minister, had given civil servants a five-day ultimatum to resolve their leadership wrangles and submit their official list of negotiators to the government.

But the meeting failed to materialise after some of the Apex council members including College Lecturers Association of Zimbabwe (Colaz), Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe(PTUZ), Teachers Union of Zimbabwe(TUZ) and Zimbabwe Rural Teachers Association walked out of the meeting in Harare yesterday citing intimidation by the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association and the Public Service Association.

“The meeting did not take off as the majority of us (Apex council members) withdrew after Zimta and PSA chose to play big brother and unprocedurally brought with them dozens of representatives instead of the required maximum of three,” David Dzatsunga, Colaz president, said.

“They intended to intimidate us so they could send more representatives to dominate the discussions with government when we meet them on Monday but we said no to their bully tactics.”

Dzatsunga said they would still continue to meet Goche on Monday as scheduled despite the disagreement. He said they were committed to the salary negotiations.

Zimta and PSA have allegedly since written to government that Cecilia Alexander will be representing Apex Council at the Monday meeting notwithstanding the impasse.

Both Alexander and Richard Gundani, the Zimta president, were not answering their phones when the Daily News sought their comment yesterday.

Raymond Majongwe, the PTUZ secretary, who has just retained his post at the organisation’s third elective congress, slammed Zimta and the PSA.

“They say whenever two elephants fight, the grass suffers and it seems we have bullies in Apex who are enjoying the fight,” Majongwe said.

“To them, it is not about their membership but their big egos and they can go to any lengths and it is unfortunate.”

Civil servants have been divided over the number of seats allocated to each union in the Apex Council, the umbrella body that represents government employees in salary negotiations.

The Apex Council comprises of members drawn from 12 unions including Zimta — the largest civil service union — the PTUZ, TUZ, Colaz, PSA and others.

Civil service unions are required to submit a list of nine negotiators to government but they have been squabbling over the number of seats each association occupies in the Apex Council.

In the initial list signed by the unions, Zimta was given three seats, PTUZ and TUZ got one negotiator each while the PSA had four negotiators. This prompted Colaz to submit a new list of negotiators and got support from PTUZ and the TUZ, resulting in the current impasse.

The rest of the unions want Zimta to surrender one of the seats to Colaz but the former has refused arguing that as the largest body, it was entitled to the number of representatives it has on the Apex Council.

Civil servants are looking forward to a salary increment in January after they failed to get any joy during the tenure of the inclusive Government.

Currently, the lowest paid employee gets $297.

Comments (3)

if the unions are confused then let the government give us what they can afford. Hameno vanhu vanoramba vachidyira mari namaunions asinabasa navo.

BC - 16 December 2013

Imi they create this confusion vachimbotsvaga mari kani. Hatina kana budget even tckshop yangu ine budget.

Maita Manyuka - 16 December 2013

The Unions have to be mindful that they are representing mature professionals not children..The membership of these various groupings can form an interim body across union membership and elect representatives to represent them while these union leaders can enjoy their pastime of fighting..but this time not at the expense of the membership. The membership should refuse their leadership to walk all over them in this fashion..It is pathetic for want of a better word. Civil servants you deserve better than this from your leadership..Yah, boot the whole load out and form an ad-hoc committee to represent your interests across the board..Why allow vanity to destroy your livelihoods while you sulk on the sidelines. Seize the moment and boot these louts out! Beside robbing you by abusing your membership fees they have the temerity to insult you as well..what cheek!

gutter poet - 16 December 2013

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