‘Apex Council jumped the gun’


Government says the Civil Service Apex Council has jumped the gun by acting outside the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) after courting the Treasury and the central bank to the negotiating table.

NJNC is composed of the government and public service representatives under the banner of the Apex Council.

The development comes after the government has imposed a curfew and banned any gathering in the latest lockdown restriction announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday night.

This has given the authorities time to contain the restive civil service which planned mass demonstrations slated for July 31.

Economists said the government will not yield to the United States dollar salary demands of US$475 per month as it continues to use ideological state apparatus through the press statements and repressive state apparatus by deploying state security and view protestors as terrorists.

Public Service Labour and Social Welfare minister Paul Mavima told Business Times that most of the subcommittees have submitted their recommendations to the Tripartite Negotiating Forum for further discussions.

“The courting of the RBZ governor [John] Mangudya and Finance and Economic Development minister [Mthuli] Ncube to the negotiating table by the apex council last week is a clear breach of negotiation protocol as our solutions will come through the National Joint Negotiating Council.

It’s rare when there are solutions outside TNF,” Mavima said.

“However, I have already sent the letter to the governor and the minister and I am looking forward to getting a favourable response from them so that civil servants representatives have a word with them.”

He said the NJNC should be sitting very soon over workers’ welfare.

That process is expected to start soon after the Economic subcommittee has
submitted its recommendations to the TNF.

“All other committees have already submitted except this one, we are waiting for its submission as we move forward with negotiations.”

High inflation has seen the devaluation of the local currency where most workers have seen their purchasing power seriously eroded.

Prices of basic goods and services have continued to skyrocket, while certain goods are now priced exclusively in US dollars by some retailers, amid stagnation of incomes and volatile parallel market exchange rates.

The government has cushioned workers by giving a 50% salary increment and a US$75 Covid-19 allowance.

The monthly low-income urban family budget for a family of six rose to $13 000 last month, up from $8000 in May, according to calculations by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe.

Mavima said over 75% of the civil servants have received their US$75 this month with the other tractions expected in the next two months.

Civil Service Apex Council chairperson Cecilia Alexander said NJNC processes were not enough to address their plight.

“We will press on and continue to engage authorities we see can be crucial to our welfare if those within our means don’t act to our demands. This shows how serious we are in terms of workers’ welfare,” Alexander said.

Meanwhile, Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe president Israel Murefu said many businesses were either in intensive care or functionally dead and thus unable to review salaries.

He said the Covid-19 pandemic and the attendant lockdown had severely disrupted operations, markets, and production value chains.

“Businesses are not only grappling with survival but escalating costs
which threaten business viability,” Murefu said.

“Therefore, given such a scenario, there is a need for employers and employees to meet each other halfway so that there is a win-win outcome.”

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