Civil servants drag Mnangagwa into labour dispute with PSC

R&M Writers

Civil servants representative groups have dragged President Emmerson Mnangagwa (pictured) in their dispute with the Public Service Commission over collective bargaining, citing him as the Second respondent in a High Court application made on December 6.

The five labour bodies, the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ), Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) Educators Union of Zimbabwe (EUZ) and the Civil Service Employees of Zimbabwe made an application at the High Court in Harare seeking.

Five associations representing government workers have dragged President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the Public Service Commission (PSC) to the High Court where they are seeking and order pronouncing that conditions of Service for members of the Civil Service should be fixed through collective bargaining as dictated by the country’s Constitution.

In court papers filed on December 6, the PSC and Mnangagwa are cited as first and second respondents while the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mthuli Ncube, Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Paul Mavhima and Justice Minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi are cited as third, fourth and fifth respondents respectively.

ARTUZ Secretary General, Obert Masaraure said they had reached the decision because civil servants in the country did not have space for collecting bargaining, leaving the government to make decisions for them, which was not healthy.

“We have approached the High Court seeking an order pronouncing that conditions of service for members of the Civil Service including their salaries, allowances and benefits should be fixed through collective bargaining in line with Section 203 (1) (b) of the constitution,” ARTUZ posted on their official twitter handle Wednesday.

The unions raised constitutional issues which they wanted the court to determine, including whether their conditions of service, including their salaries, allowances, and other benefits should be determined through a collective bargaining process in terms of Section 203(1) (b) as read with section 65 (5) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

They also want the court to determine whether section 19 (1) of the Public Service Act (Chapter 16:04) which gives power to the Public Service Commission and the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare power to unilaterally declare conditions of service without going through the collective bargaining process is inconsistent with section 203(1) (b) as read with Section 65 (5) of the Constitution.

In his founding affidavit, ZIMTA Chief Executive Officer, Sifiso Ndlovu, said the Public Service Joint Negotiating Council, Regulations SI 141/1977 was unconstitutional.

“Section 3 (1) confers on the Joint Council the power to negotiate salaries, allowances and conditions for members of the Public Service whereas such power lies with the Public Service Commission under Section 203 (1) (b) of the Constitution and subject to the provisions on collective bargaining under Section 65 (5) of the Constitution,” he said.

Ndlovu said the agreements reached at the Joint Council did not constitute valid collective bargaining agreements as they were mere recommendations to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.

He said some sections of the Public Service Act were ultra vires the Constitution as they did not provide for collective bargaining.

Ndlovu said the Constitution provided for the right of every employee, employer, trade union and employee and employer organisations to engage in collective bargaining, which the government workers were currently being denied.

The respondents were given 10 days to file a notice of opposition failure of which the application will be set down for hearing in the High Court without further notice.

The unions are represented by Matika, Gwisai and Partners legal practitioners.

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