ZCTU calls for general strike

HARARE - President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration has been plunged into another crisis after the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) yesterday called for a general strike to protest against its “disregard” for workers.

ZCTU president Peter Mutasa told the Daily News yesterday that the main labour body was mobilising its stakeholders to support the general strike, whose major objective is to show solidarity with government workers who are demanding better pay and improved working conditions.

With the country hurtling towards general elections to be held not later than August this year, the cash-strapped government is already faced with industrial strife as almost all civil servants are demanding salaries that are consistent with the poverty datum line (PDL), estimated at about $600.

The lowest earning civil servant is presently taking home below $300, way below the PDL which represents the cost of a given standard of living that must be attained if a person is deemed not to be poor.

Only last month, doctors staged a strike that almost collapsed the country’s health delivery system until government gave in to their demands for a salary raise.

Nurses in public hospitals are currently on a crippling industrial action, demanding improved working conditions, while teachers have also threatened not to re-open schools for the second term next month if their salaries are not reviewed upwards.

Mutasa told the Daily News yesterday that Mnangagwa’s government had shown insensitivity towards the plight of civil servants and the general labour force at large.

“What civil servants are demanding is legitimate, especially when one looks at the mockery of salaries that are being earned by doctors, teachers and nurses juxtaposed with the rate at which prices of basic commodities have been skyrocketing since September last year hence we have concluded that the best way forward is to protest in a very huge way,” he said.

Asked if the call for the general strike was not political in view of the fact that the union is linked to the main opposition party, the MDC, Mutasa said their action was being driven by market forces.

“It is not about elections but the dictates of market forces, which have not waited for elections. At times one wonders how civil servants survive on the meagre salaries they are paid,” he said.

“We are therefore out to tell those who have assumed the reins of power that we gave them enough time when they asked for 100 days. We are concerned that during the grace period, they have not shown an appetite to treat workers fairly and hence the resolution that we address them in the language we think they will understand better,” added Mutasa, while calling on members of the public to join in the industrial action.

“We encourage everyone to be part of the strike whose dates and logistics we are still consulting on. We want kombi drivers, vendors and everyone else to be part of that because with nurses currently on strike, our health is not guaranteed even as we sell our wares in town. We need to stand up in solidarity with the health workers,” Mutasa added.

It is not the first time that the ZCTU has called for a general strike or mass protest to press government to addressing its concerns.

Its mass protests were a huge success in the 1990s when the country’s economy used to fire from all its cylinders.

The mass protests started losing their gravitas when job losses spiralled through the roof in the last 18 years on the back of company closures and retrenchments torched by an economic meltdown suffered under former president Robert Mugabe’s rule.

It would, however, appear that the union wants to capitalise on the groundswell of discontentment in the civil service to push through its agenda, whose timing raises a lot of eyebrows.

The ZCTU became the springboard on which the main MDC party was formed under the leadership of its then secretary-general Morgan Tsvangirai (now late), who assumed leadership at its formation in 1999.

The call for a general strike comes as the Apex Council — the umbrella representative body for civil servants — has been engaging government, demanding a salary increase that can cushion civil servants against the high cost of living, fuelled by price increases of basic goods and services experienced towards the end of last year.

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) argues that teachers have lost hope in Mnangagwa’s administration despite his pledges when he took over from Mugabe, whose regime was rocked by frequent job actions.

When he was inaugurated as president on November 24 last year, Mnangagwa promised better working conditions for civil servants and said his government would commit itself to paying annual bonuses.

But 100 days later, there has not been any marked improvement, amid reports his government is trying to placate the military which helped him assume power from Mugabe by addressing transport problems, reviewing their salaries and providing better houses for them as part of sharing the spoils of Mugabe’s ouster.

“We are very disappointed as teachers. The president has seen everyone who matters except workers but for any economy to function, the government needs workers. There is nothing positive in this new regime; our conditions are worse now. We demanded a salary increment as of yesterday, workers are suffering — the government must engage us,” PTUZ secretary-general, Raymond Majongwe was quoted saying recently.

“They are dillydallying with our bonuses. We have suffered enough. They must brace for action from teachers, who are suffering,” he added.

Teachers are demanding the reinstatement of vacation leave banished last year even though the relevant Statutory Instrument 1 of 2000 has neither been repealed nor amended.

Comments (9)

This is politically motivated and ZCTU should not think for a moment that the populace is oblivious to their shenanigans. The country coffers are dry and government is working at improving our economy by inviting direct foreign investment. Reviving the economy will take a lot more that a 100 days and Mutasa knows this. This clearly shows that the MDC Alliance and their handmaiden the ZCTU do not have the interests of Zimbabweans at heart.

Order - 18 April 2018

True state coffers are empty, and I am wondering what is in the head this pro- MDC-T worker's organisation who met Chamisa recently to plot the schemishes & the subsidiary teacher's unions,doctors & nurses.We hope their goal is only to score political points ahead of the elections. Itz fair to criticise ED 's spending excesses on foreign trips but equally evil to try to destroy the economy the same way only for the publics to suffer on selfish grounds.Considering the status quo how can such people b n sane ones

addmore gudo - 18 April 2018

The gvt and the public service commissiom and all the company Management must get ready to replace all straking workers,,,,,,all striking workers must be chased away from work,,,,,,,,the sate of the economy does not allow all the big demands in salaries as you will...all people you wantThat political motive will make you jobless as other thousand of unemployed people and you will feel the state of the economy when you are out of work.Noise yenyu iyoyo inokonzeresa kuti vanhu vanemari vabvise mari mumabank to shay mari becz of your Noises . A ll calling for striking mus go and hang no inreament ,,,,,increament only when the state of the economy improves not now,,,,,its political .The gvt must ensure no work no pay ,,,,if fail to come to work you will be guaranted to get short salary if not chased out.....mazimba majaira kushandiswa......ZACTU Must try to call for those strikes will see........there will be massive recruitment to replace vanhu waguta kushanda......Moda replacement zvakaitwa mugabe....all vendor must get ready your cvs and certificate a get work if they state striking.No one will be protected in this circumicenteces of demanding more salary on the state of this economy which struggling if you are politically motivate you will get your price if your strike,,,,

dofo - 18 April 2018

Endai ne full strike until real freedom comes. Teach these clueless hyenas a lesson in 21st century governance. Vajaira zveganyavhu chete

Moe Syslack - 19 April 2018

We definitely cannot toy toy ourselves to success. Let's change the narrative, We need new names and new ways.....We all know from the actions of November that we are coming from a difficult place...Current leadership may have not been clear on the depth of the hole we find ourselves in but surely we do see and feel the difference even though it may not yet translate to pennies in our pockets....So as a hardworking and patriotic people why are we going to strike?????? Why or Why have we talked enough? Have we engaged our leaders and have they refused to listen? Are we not stuck in a bygone era where leadership could not be engaged and futures could not be negotiated? Have we exhausted the civil routes and all we have left is industrial action or are we stuck in a mode of civil unrest that may have outlived its time??????I implore all those threatening action to try other means possible...We need a new way of conducting business of development in Zimbabwe

Wilson Magaya - 19 April 2018

zanu people that mentality of blaming Chisa mbama chisa because of this government's failure should stop forthwith. gone are the days zanu could do harm and people kept on as nothing happened. There is God in Heaven, remember you cannot harm or derail God's way.

danny boy - 19 April 2018

Who told you that government coffers are dry iwe Gudo you must have lied big time. Looks like you are ill informed or you dont want to tell the truth. Recently drs were on strike and the lowest got 1600 on top of their salaries, Anyone from IT had an increament of $720. Sister in charg $420, nurses$ 80 and the rest $14.00. Do these people shop in different shops, Dont they have chn going to school , rentals,medical bills, etc. You may label it political or whatever the name but the government has failed to make a correct decision. And where did that money came from if the coffers are as dry as you want everyone to believe. If the cake was small it should have been shared equally ensuring that everyone gets a fair share not a lion's share. So in my view hapana politics apa pane economics and social chete chete.

grade two - 19 April 2018

lets shut down zimbabwe everyone must stop with immediate effect l support nurses

g40 - 19 April 2018

Mari vanayo, yokutenga scuff dzokupfeka everyday haisi woma ndikupfeke inoitwa paya naBoss munangagwa. ko yokukwira ma private jet. Inzwa kuti garwe kana kuti mbada unoti pangabude chitsvene chipi ipapa. chisa mbama chisa.

kachipindi Shingirai - 21 April 2018

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