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Civil servants threaten to strike

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The Civil Servants Trade Union (CSTU) has blamed government for showing little interest in talks over salary increment in the civil service.

They suspect that the development may be motivated by Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Goodall Gondwe’s, position on the issue of salaries.

In January this year, during the opening of Managing for Development Results workshop, Gondwe is reported to have said that civil servants who are seeking salary increase should resign and look for employment elsewhere.

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A letter to Chief Secretary to Government, Lloyd Muhara, from CSTU General Secretary, Madalitso Njolomole, which The Daily Times has seen, says the civil servants are concerned about the pace at which the negotiations for salary increment are taking place.

The letter, dated April 10, 2017, says CSTU wants government to be serious on the issue of salaries for civil servants.

“We would like to urge government to treat the negotiations with the Civil Servants Trade Union with the seriousness they deserve, as any tendencies, to the contrary would be counter-productive and result in massive industrial unrest,” reads the letter.

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It adds: “We wish to clearly state our stand that we shall not accept any decision from government that has no input from us, as per our motto, ‘nothing for us, without us’ and in this regard, we urge government to urgently call for a negotiations meeting to deal with so many unresolved issues affecting civil servants,” reads the letter.

The CSTU gave government a 21-day notice for industrial action, in the event that the meeting is not called.

However, we have it on authority that the days given expired and the CSTU, wrote a seven-day notice for industrial action. The strike was averted after negotiations resumed on Wednesday.

Njolomole, who only confirmed about the meeting, could not be drawn to shed more light on the outcome.

“We have started the negotiations. But what we discussed is not for public consumption,” Njolomole said.

It is understood that more meetings have been scheduled to iron out issues the civil servants are complaining about.

Muhara, who received the 21- day ultimatum, said Minister of Information, Nicholas Dausi, was the right person to comment on the matter. Dausi only said government is handling the issue.

“We have heard their concerns. As government, we are looking into the issue,” Dausi said.

There have always been talks between government and CSTU over issues affecting civil servants. Government set up a team, called Government Negotiating Team (GNT), to represent it.

In 2013, there was a standoff between CSTU and GNT, leading to a nationwide strike, that was only called off after some of the civil servants’ demands were met.

A few weeks ago, government used a court injunction to stop a strike by judiciary support staff, one of the grounds being failure by the workers to meet some pre-strike conditions.

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