Government shut-down looms as civil servants plan protest strikes

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira

The Government yesterday said it will continue soliciting views from civil servants on whether or not they want residential stands for their 2016 bonuses despite threats by union leaders to stage a demonstration.

Unions under the banner of Apex Council met yesterday and announced they would be holding a demonstration over delays in bonus payments.

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira said the survey being conducted by the Civil Service Commission would inform Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa on what decision to take.

The unions demanded immediate payment of the bonuses.

Minister Mupfumira said the employer had a right to solicit for workers’ views as not all civil servants were unionised.

“We expect the results from the CSC survey tomorrow (today) and this is for Minister Chinamasa to get a view of what people are saying on the ground,” she said.

“We felt the views of those outside Apex Council have to be captured also, hence the survey and this is helpful to both parties. We will simply tell Minister Chinamasa to consider what would have come out of the survey. They can threaten to strike, but as long as they follow laid down procedures there is no problem. We will continue to dialogue with them and we do not tolerate threats.”

Some civil servants have since indicated that they prefer stands to cash, which come at zero deposit, as payment for their bonuses.

Minister Mupfumira said Minister Chinamasa was away, hence the decision to shift the dates of the meeting between Government and the union leaders.

“We are told the key stakeholder, Minister Chinamasa, is away and would be available on March 1, hence our decision to move the meeting to March 6,” she said. “No one is playing politics because we cannot meet when the holder of the purse is not around.”

The meeting was initially scheduled for February 20 before being moved to yesterday and postponed to next Monday.

The meeting will also involve Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Dr John Mangudya.

Apex Council members yesterday said they would go ahead with their demonstration.

They described the Government survey on bonuses as “a phony”.

“Observing that Government has been shifting dates of meeting willy-nilly without due notice to the unions, disgruntled with Government practice of informalising crucial meetings on important issues such as the 2016 bonuses and collective bargaining, aggrieved by the unsolicited attacks on union leadership and undue interference with our members in contravention of Section 65 of the Constitution, the undersigned Apex Council members hereby serve due notice to Government that civil servants will hold a demonstration on Monday the 6th of March demanding immediate payment of our 2016 bonuses as per tradition and a stop to the public attacks on unions by Government,” Apex Council said in a statement.

The Government recently offered its workers three payment options for 2016 bonuses, which included residential stands, a cash stipend coupled with non-monetary benefits and property investment bonds.

The employer is operating on a “shoe-string” budget and has been shifting the workers’ pay dates. – Herald

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