BY BLESSED MHLANGA
GOVERNMENT has snubbed further salary talks with teachers’ unions, saying it had no plans to directly engage the combative unions.
In a response dated February 18, addressed to the Progressive Teachers’ Union (PTUZ), Civil Service Commission secretary Jonathan Wutawunashe turned down a request by the teachers’ unions to urgently meet government over poor salaries and working conditions.
“The commission acknowledges receipt of your minute dated February 13, which contents are noted, please note that the commission will not be meeting unions/associations directly. You are, therefore, advised to direct your issues to the National Joint Negotiating Forum,” he said.
PTUZ, together with the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) and four other unions had requested an urgent meeting with the Public Service Commission (PSC) to negotiate salary adjustments in line with inflation and erosion of real time gross settlement and bond notes values.
“We write to remind your honourable office of a meeting between the PSC and the education sector, which was promised during the last meeting of February 10, between ministry and the teachers unions,” the unions wrote.
Teachers recently called off a week-long strike with the hope of engaging the PSC for better salaries, allowances and working conditions.
PTUZ secretary-general, Raymond Majongwe said the response was disrespectful and spiteful, saying a position will only be reached after unions meet.
“We believe it was disrespectful and spiteful for government to back down on promises that they made by hiding behind the law. The law does not stop government from engaging their workers. The law, as designed by the legislator under statutory 141 of 1996, does not bar government from engaging its workers,” he said. In the past, unions have accused the Apex Council of selling out and failing to address teacher-related issues.