Stop it, unions tell VP Chiwenga

June 23, 2022

LIVINGSTONE MARUFU

 

The Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (ZCPSTU) has told Vice President Constantino Chiwenga to stop interfering in the troubled Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) affairs as relations between government and its employees deteriorate.

In a letter dated to Chiwenga, who is also the Health and Child Care minister,  the ZCPSTU noted a disturbing trend of civil servants’ representatives being side-lined by the employer, government,  on the PSMAS issue.

“Your announcement Your Excellency is regrettably, yet another example of the employer making a unilateral decision on a matter of collective bargaining nature without consulting its employees at all,” ZCPSTU said in a letter to Chiwenga.“This observation is particularly important in view of  the fact that on March 28 2022 we wrote to [Minister]Paul Mavima  proposing that instead of government directly paying subscriptions  on behalf of civil servants to PSMAS, it was fairer  if government  simply paid an allowance  to all employees and leave them scout  around and choose  medical aid societies of their choice.

“This would  firstly allow freedom of choice and secondly allow numerous civil servants  who are currently not on PSMAS  and therefore not enjoying  medical aid benefit, to also benefit therefrom.

“We have taken note of the rather irrational  scenario where we are paying more  for funeral assurance than we do for medical aid. Surely, healthcare  is more important than a burial,” civil servants said in a letter dated June 1.

ZCPSTU  said the hyperinflationary environment currently prevailing in the country has completely eroded salaries of government employees necessitating an urgent  salary review.

“An agreement has to be reached between  the employer and us, the employees, on new salaries for the civil servants  sooner rather than later to avert industrial disharmony. Our below  inflation wages  have impacted our access to  affordable quality healthcare and PSMAS  is the most affected in this regard,” ZCPSTU  said.

Government workers are requesting to meet Chiwenga as soon as possible to address the concerns raised.

Civil servants now want the discussions with the highest offices in the land as they believe the PSC  and Mavima have failed to address their problems.

Early in the year, PSC in its 2019-2025 Strategic Plan, page 41, set itself a goal to either demutualise or capacitate PSMAS but  the trade unions questioned the reason behind the government organ’s motive on a mutual society owned by its members.

The government workers accused  PSC of using the regulator of medical aid societies to  illegally stop the PSMAS AGM then scheduled for  June 24 citing concerns with governance and service delivery.

The PSC was warned to desist from speaking to the public on behalf of workers on any condition of service issue unless there is consultation.

ZCPSTU said the government should convene an urgent NJNC to resolve the PSMAS issue and stop the suffering of members who are bearing the brunt of co-payments.

Efforts to get comment from the Ministry of Health and Child Care were fruitless as Chiwenga’s deputy Mangwiro and permanent secretary Jasper Chimedza were unreachable. Mangwiro was said to be in a meeting and would return the call. He did not.

 

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