Civil servants create climate for wage negotiation

Civil servants have decided to rally behind a new National Joint Negotiating Council, a platform that brings together workers’ representatives and government salary and wage negotiators.

Previously, workers depended on the Apex Council, an umbrella body for all civil service unions, for their salary negotiations with the government. Leadership wrangles at Apex have, however, led to a year-long stalemate in discussions over wage rises.

The disputes followed the election of College Lecturers Association of Zimbabwe President David Dzatsunga as chair in August last year. The Public Service Association boycotted the elections saying they were unconstitutional and then refused to endorse the Apex Council leadership.

There were allegations among teaching unions loyal to Apex leaders that the PSA was running a parallel structure over salary negotiations with the government. This prompted the government to write to the civil servants, telling them to put their house in order.

Last month, PSA Executive Secretary Emmanuel Tichareva told The Zimbabwean they had realised the leadership wrangles were not doing the workers any good and that there was need for government employees to unite if they were to get a better deal.

Dzatsunga told The Zimbabwean that plans to set up the National Joint Negotiating Council were at an advanced stage following consultations among their unions under the Apex Council. Initially, the NJNC comprised of the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association, the PSA, the Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe and the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe.

Dzatsunga said that civil servants had decided to make the NJNC “more inclusive”, hence their decision to bring on board all the government workers’ unions.

“So far, we are all agreed on the constitution of the new council, which will also include the PSA and other civil servants’ unions that fall within the Apex Council. That is the move that we are going to be making so that we can engage with the government.

“What has been proposed so far is that the council would have nine seats, four of which will be allocated to the civil service; the other four to the education sector, and the remaining one will be occupied by a head of delegation who will be elected by members,” said Dzatsunga.

Last month, the Civil Service Commission urged civil servants’ unions to come up with a position paper on their salaries and conditions of service and start engaging their parent ministry under the NJNC.

Dzatsunga said the council would be dissolved when the civil servants meet next year to discuss a structure for collective bargaining as provided in the new constitution.

“The National Joint Negotiating Council will hold negotiations with the government, maybe up to December. The Apex Council is as good as dead now because the constitution has provisions for collective bargaining. It means we will discuss the formulation of a new negotiating framework next year,” said Dzatsunga.

Post published in: News

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