Unions plotting mega shutdown

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) yesterday cranked up the pressure on President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government, confirming it would go ahead with its planned national strike this month.

This comes as the government has increasingly come under pressure from restive labour leaders, who are agitating for the salaries of their union members to be paid in United States dollars.

At the same time, the government is also still battling to convince striking doctors to go back to hospitals, following a month-long stand-off which has led to the suspension of critical medical procedures at public hospitals.

“Workers are generally worried about the narcissist approach taken by government in making policies. We are in a form of dictatorship worse than what we had during Mugabe’s era,” ZCTU president Peter Mutasa told the Daily News yesterday.

“If things continue like this, the country will be left with no drugs in pharmacies, no doctors and nurses in hospitals, no teachers in schools — and this is destructive. As a union we have agreed to take action and we want to co-ordinate all workers’ groups to join the shutdown.

“We want a welfare State and we want to stop the austerity measures that are making our lives difficult ... We have communicated with our members and we are hoping to discuss with other civil organisations before we embark on the shutdown,” Mutasa said further.

The planned ZCTU shutdown comes at a time that civil servants have demanded to be paid in United States dollars, or the equivalent in bond notes to cushion themselves from the deteriorating economic environment in the country.

However, the government has rejected outright the public servants’ demands to be paid in US dollars.

Still, the Apex Council — which represents hundreds of thousands of civil servants across the public sector — is adamant that the government should pay its workers a minimum of $1 733, or the equivalent in US dollars.

“All the unions have agreed that they will not be able to come to work in January if the government fails to give us a positive response. It doesn’t mean that we are calling for a strike, but workers will fail to come to work due to the high cost of living.

“We did a research in November and we are saying the lowest paid civil servant must get something like $1 733 — and we have communicated our position to the government,” Apex Council chairperson, Cecilia Alexander, told the Daily News last month.

The government has come under growing pressure from disillusioned citizens over the worsening local economic situation — after Mnangagwa was feted in his early days in office for superintending over arguably the most peaceful elections since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.

Zimbabweans have in the past few months had to contend with rising prices of basic consumer goods and widespread shortages of items such as cooking oil — which have disappeared from supermarket shelves.

Thousands of commuters have also had their festive season travel plans thrown into chaos, due to the current fuel shortages being experienced in the country.

Meanwhile, Mnangagwa himself told the Zanu PF conference in December that his government was battling to fix the country’s myriad economic problems.

However, he also told his followers at the Esigodini conference that the government was working flat out to try and solve the multiple crises.

“Government, along with industry, continues to dialogue and interrogate the cost build-ups, towards finding lasting solutions which will bring permanent relief to consumers and greater stability to the economy.

“We also need to address the question of our own domestic currency once the correct economic fundamentals are in place,” he said.

Comments (4)

The problem with the president is he is too soft. He must stop this economic sabotage by the opposition which effects us all. Sent a team of army with a price control investigator to all pharmacists investigarte theorv purchasec and selling price, when they see how much patients are being charged and ridiculous inflation, tse the phasrma cist around the back and shoot them in self defence. Think how many die because they cannot afford medication. After three pharmacists the next day all process will be back to normal..

John - 2 January 2019

Its outright stupidity to expect your children to appreciate that things are tight and there is no money when you come home late and very drunk everyday.

Sinyo - 2 January 2019

The current government is clueless on fixing the country economic crisis. To say that the opposition is sabotaging this economy is neither here or there, it is the responsibility of the ruling party which is failing us. All is not well at all. I now feel that RG Mugabe was far much better than ED who call himself new dispensation chairman. The new dispensation is a dispensation of hunger and suffering of the ordinary citizens of zimbabwe. We had gone back to Smith dispensation were people were charged hut tax and other unnecessary charges aiming at making people suffer.

Amalinze - 2 January 2019

Government should print money pay everyone what they want, then its eaten by inflation, they strike again, print and pay and the cycle goes..... I think as a nation we need to put our heads together for a solution than these strikes. Its likely that any increases will be coming from money that is not in the budget and that will trigger inflation. Union leaders, let's all be part of the solution.

Sama - 2 January 2019

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