- Published: 06 January 2015
- Written by Chronicle
Teachers will start getting their bonuses today while the rest of the civil servants will have their 13th cheque by month end, acting Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Services Engineer Walter Mzembi said yesterday.
This comes as teachers yesterday called on government to engage them directly through the official platform, the National Joint Negotiating Council, instead of them learning about their welfare from the media.
Minister Mzembi said it seemed the NJNC had collapsed and there were no negotiating teams from government and the workers.
The government team leader, Maxwell Ranga, was offered an ambassadorial role while NJNC chairperson, Nelson Sambureni has resigned.
Minister Mzembi said government remained committed to honouring its obligations with regards to meeting the entitlements of all public servants.
He said: "In this regard and consistent with the staggering schedule previously announced, the bonuses for the education sector are being transferred to the various banks and should start reflecting in individual bank accounts by Tuesday and Wednesday the 6th and 7th of January 2015. For the rest of the civil servants, government remains committed to ensuring that all bonuses are paid by January 2015, on a date to be advised."
The majority of the civil servants are yet to get their 13th cheque and government has attributed the delays to cashflow challenges.
Only members of the uniformed forces received their bonuses in November. Teachers had threatened to go on strike when schools open next week accusing government of failing to come up with an exact date when their bonuses would be paid.
They accused government of creating confusion due to non-communication and continuous shifting of goal posts on the payment date.
Zimbabwe Teachers' Association chief executive Sifiso Ndlovu yesterday said government was mum on the issue despite the unions writing a letter to their parent Ministry two weeks ago.
"I wrote to the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Services on December 20 urging them to come clear on the issue but up to now they've not responded. The next thing we see is the Minister issuing statements in the media," he said.
"The system has collapsed and there is no negotiating taking place through the National Joint Negotiating Council, which in our view is dangerous as people will always speculate. The situation could be better if we were dialoguing but they are mum."
Ndlovu said Zimta was still to take a position on whether or not to go on strike.
Ndlovu said the Zimta national executive will meet today in Harare to map the way forward.
"The issue of our bonus is still a bitter pill to swallow because the employer has not officially communicated anything to us. The anticipation and confusion is high and we will hold a meeting tomorrow (today) to map the way forward," said Ndlovu.
He said the union failed to understand why the payment of bonuses was not done on December 31 as earlier announced by government.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary general Raymond Majongwe said: "We bear with government but the greatest challenge is lack of dialogue. When there is agitation, the best way to douse those flames is to engage in dialogue in good faith. The earlier they communicate the position to us the better because we have budgets to make. Schools are opening next week and our children need school fees," he said.
College Lecturers Association of Zimbabwe president David Dzatsunga said: "This new culture where government unilaterally makes decisions is against good labour practices. An employer always consults workers before going public."
In response, Minister Mzembi said there was need to resuscitate the negotiating table.
"We understand their concerns and it will be for the benefit of both sides if the NJNC is revived. We wanted to communicate with them but in the absence of the platform it becomes difficult. This is an issue which will be addressed as a matter of urgency."
Meanwhile, Minister Muzembi said pupils under the Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam) should not be chased away from school next week.
He said while government owed schools fees for 2014, no child should fail to access basic education because of their social background.