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Govt salary talks collapse

BY MOSES MATENGA GOVERNMENT salary talks broke down last week, with teachers saying they will boycott classes when schools reopen for examination classes next week as a result. The Apex Council, an umbrella body for all government employees, confirmed the development yesterday as teachers’ unions said they would officially declare their planned strike action today. “We had a breakdown last time and we couldn’t agree and there was no talk of how, when and what with the government,” Apex Council spokesperson David Dzatsunga said. “It was just a case of taking your jacket and leaving with no agreement and that’s where we are,” he said. Dzatsunga said the Apex Council would this week meet to map the way forward, adding that he had not yet been briefed on the position taken by teachers. “We are not yet briefed on that and maybe we will hear their position in our meeting sometime this week. What we know is we had a meeting (with the government) that broke down, but obviously we will have to hear what they will have to say,” he said. Public Service minister Paul Mavima confirmed the standoff, but said there was room for further negotiations. “They failed to reach an agreement last week. However, that should not close the door for negotiations. I am going to kickstart those negotiations again this week,” he said. Civil servants have frequently gone on strike since 2018 as the local currency has tumbled, fuelling inflation and eroding incomes. Citizens have also lost faith in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s economic revival plans, but government claims its efforts are being sabotaged by the opposition and foreign elements pushing a regime change agenda. Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa yesterday said she was still optimistic of a breakthrough in the talks. “Government is negotiating in good faith and remains optimistic that both sides find each other and find a common ground. It tabled an offer to its workers and they indicated that they were not happy with it. But this is a matter under negotiation and that’s what the National Joint Negotiating Council is here for,” she said. “It’s a forum where two polar positions are brought together for a joint common position. This scenario does not indicate a strike is going to take place, but that parties have to regroup and review their positions so they can come together to try to find each other again.” Two weeks ago, nurses ended a three-month job boycott to give negotiations a chance. Teachers yesterday said they would not return to work next week, as government insists on reopening schools beginning with examination classes on Tuesday. Teachers’ organisations confirmed the industrial action yesterday, adding that they would officially announce the decision today in Harare. Inflation is above 700% and teachers say their salaries have not kept pace, with the average salary the equivalent of between US$30 and US$35, against their demand of US$520 per month. In a circular distributed on Sunday, the country’s biggest teachers union, Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta), said: “T

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