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Lawmakers: Divisions in Zimbabwe State Unions Retrogressive

(File) Striking civil servants attending a rally in Harare.
Parliament on Monday ordered civil servants unions to unite so they can resume salary negotiations with the government.

Speaking during a meeting with some of the unions’ representatives, Members of Parliament’s Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare portfolio committee said unions’ failure to work together was harming workers.

Bulawayo East lawmaker Tabitha Khumalo of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said it will be difficult for the committee to assist the unions as long as they are divided, adding that civil servants are unable to negotiate now because no one agrees who should lead the Apex Council, the body that negotiates on behalf of government workers.

Collin Gwiyo of Zengeza West agreed with Khumalo, saying such a situation favours the government.

Under the law, civil servants unions are supposed to choose nine representatives to the Apex Council, which then negotiates for salaries and working conditions.

But last's year's elections to choose Apex representatives were boycotted by the Public Service Association, citing irregularities.

The Ministry of Public Service refused to endorse the outcome, saying it had also received a list of negotiators from the Public Service Association.

Meanwhile, civil servants organisations that attended Monday’s meeting said there was nothing to celebrate about the 5.3 percent pay increase, awarded by government last month, calling it “too little.”

Zimbabwe Teachers Union secretary general Richard Gundani said his union would prefer to see a salary scale in which the lowest-paid government worker would earn a salary equal to the poverty datum line, now pegged at just over $500.

Gundani said the government must do more to bring in more resources so that it can pay workers what he called “realistic salary increments”.