Govt moves to avert full-blown strike

Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, battling to avert a full-blown strike by civil servants, has indicated that it would soon engage their leadership to find ways to cushion them from the choking wave of price increases emanating from the distortions between the United States dollar and the local surrogate bond currency.

BY STAFF REPORTER

CiviI servants, estimated at 500 000, are demanding an increase in salaries after prices rose five-fold and inflation shot up from 3,52% in January this year to 5,39% in September and 20,85% in October.

Public Service Commission (PSC) secretary Jonathan Wutawunashe yesterday said government would soon convene the meeting to deal with issues affecting civil servants.

Of particular concern to government, he said, has been the price distortions on the market that have virtually impoverished citizens earning their salaries in bond notes and through real time gross settlement (RTGS).

Many goods and services have been priced in US dollar terms, a development that has consequently meant that ordinary citizens have to fork out between three and four times the price in bond notes, which is beyond the reach of the majority.

Wutawunashe said in a statement that a National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) meeting held on Thursday this week resolved that there should be a special indaba with workers’ representatives.

“Aware of the challenges that workers are facing as a result of a number of price distortions arising from and bordering on criminal activities, government has set in motion a process to convene a special meeting with the workers representatives,” he said.

“This platform will formalise ongoing arrangements to engage the workers in order to address the issues that they have raised in an integrated and comprehensive manner.”

Wutawunashe said government recognised the critical matters that civil servants wanted thrashed out and was committed to ongoing discussions with its employees.

“The workers presented a set of matters for discussion and government recognises these and commits itself to consultations on an ongoing basis to address them,” he said.

He said government would soon extend an invitation to the workers representatives to attend the “special meeting as a matter of urgency”.

The developments comes after negotiations between civil servants and government ended prematurely on Thursday with representatives of the workers storming out of talks in protest after being told that there would be no new offer on the table.

It is, however, not clear as yet if the government would present a new offer at the forthcoming meeting.

The government is already dealing with a strike by doctors that has paralysed operations at public hospitals while rural teachers are planning a protest march from Sunday, from Mutare to Harare to demand better pay and working conditions.