Civil servants pay talks break down as unions walk away from negotiations

HARARE – Unions representing government workers on Tuesday quit wage negotiations at the  National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) after accusing the government of negotiating in bad faith and making unilateral decisions.

This comes as the government on Monday re-tabled a 100 percent increment on the Zimbabwe dollar component of their pay with effect from July 1, which the workers already rejected last month.

The workers’ unions are demanding US$840 for the lowest paid worker. The government workers currently take home US$175 in allowances andabout  Z$30,000 per month for the lowest paid employee.

On Tuesday, the workers held a meeting and agreed to terminate talks with the government.

“All the federations which organise under the public sector do hereby declare the following: That the government did not take heed of the call by the workers to improve the USD component. The employer is making unilateral decisions during the negotiating process. This is informed by perpetual implementation of unnegotiated salaries and conditions of service thereby diminishing the essence of the negotiating process,” the unions said.

They decided that “the workers abandon the negotiating processes which do not uphold constitutional rights of collective bargaining as enshrined in the constitution.”

The unions claim that the team of negotiators from the government side attend pay talks without a mandate to make binding decisions on behalf of the government while their consultations take too long at the expense of the workers’ welfare.

Unions had already given the government a 14-day notice to strike ahead of the meeting, and the job boycott now looks likely to go ahead from July 18.

The workers representatives said they will adhere to the 14 days’ notice of industrial action given to the government on July 4.

The planned strike could cripple hospitals and force schools to close.

They also called for the immediate and unconditional release of incarcerated trade unionists Obert Masaraure and Robson Chere.

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