Harare, (New Ziana) – The top civil servants representative body, the Apex Council and one of its member unions, the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) are involved in a brawl over the former’s decision last week to provisionally agree to a 76 percent salary increase offered by the government.
The increment takes the lowest paid worker to a salary of ZWL$1 023 effective this month, as talks for further reviews continue.
Following the deal, which the 15-member Apex Council agreed to on behalf of its members, Zimta, which is also part of the council, came out guns blazing accusing the representative body of having failed to hold the “fort” during the negotiations.
“The NJNC (National Joint Negotiating Council) meeting held today (August 28) has uncharacteristically signed off the government award after government threatened not to pay if workers refused to sign for the award,” Zimta said soon after the meeting.
“Zimta condemns this bad faith tactic that has traits of coercion. We are disappointed by frontline negotiators who failed to hold the fort.”
The Apex Council did not take kindly to the teachers association’s double faced actions, describing Zimta’s statement as “not only false, self-serving and mischievous but also an affront to the integrity and dignity of the negotiators and indeed the collective of the Apex Council members’ unions/associations who strive to honestly and in a non-partisan way represent their impoverished members.”
The council said the teachers association had two representatives led by association president, Richard Gundane, in the August 28 meeting that approved the increase.
“The decision to provisionally accept the government offer came out of a fully constituted Apex Council meeting in which Zimta was represented by its president and Vice President who contributed to the debate and endorsed the decision,” the Apex Council said.
“The Apex Council agreed that the situation on the ground was dire and urgent and its workers needed to be cushioned immediately and had instructed the unions as such.”
The Council gave Zimta an ultimatum to decide if it wanted to continue being a part of the 15-member body, alleging the teacher’s body had for sometime had “one leg in and one leg out” of the council.
Suspecting Zimta chief executive, Sifiso Ndlovu was involved in penning the critical statement, the Apex Council went for the jugular, saying, “It is public knowledge that the Zimta CEO is well cushioned and understandably sees the 76 percent salary increment as peanuts, from his comfort zone.”
A leaked payslip early this year, showed that Ndlovu’s combined salary and allowances at around ZWL$11 000, by far outstripping that of teachers who earned around ZWL$400.
In its rejection of the 76 percent salary increase, Zimta said its research had shown that a worker required at least ZWL$4 600 to make ends meet.
“The award is unreasonable as it fails to meet at least 50 percent of the market value which our research strongly revealed is at $4 600,” Zimta said.
“Zimta treats the award as the employer’s discretional payment and has no reason to debar the employer from paying to teachers this rejected award.”