CIVIL servants through their respective trade unions have dragged to High Court President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Public Service Commission and other officials over the manner in which their salaries are being determined, arguing that the current set up where the Public Service minister single-handedly dictates their pay is unconstitutional.
The civil servants are therefore seeking a ruling that declares the current set up unconstitutional and make a declaratory order that forces collective bargaining involving all trade unions of government employees on their salaries and allowances.
The development follows years of disgruntlement by civil servants who accuse the led by Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions chairperson Cecilia Alexander of selling out in salary negotiations by giving in to government wishes that have seen the lowest-paid employee earning below the US$540 mark that the workers are demanding.
The first applicant in the latest court application is the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Union (Zimta) led by its chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu.
The other applicants are the Civil Service Employees’ Association (CSEA) representing the rest of public service workers with a membership of 2 600 civil servants; Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) Educators’ Union of Zimbabwe (EUZ) and the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz).
Mnangagwa is cited as second respondent and the Public Service Commission as the first respondent.
On the reasons why they cite Mnangagwa, the applicants say:“The 2nd Respondent is the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe cited herein in the official capacity as the person responsible for the approval of salaries, allowances and other benefits of members of the Public Service as may be fixed by the 1st Respondent in terms of section 2003(4) of the Constitution. The 2nd Respondent’s address for service shall be Munhumutapa Building, Samora Machel Avenue and Sam Nujoma Street, Harare.”
On Wednesday this week, the matter under case number 8261/22 at the High Court of Zimbabwe, was set down to be heard on 21 September by Justice Lucy Mungwari.
Other respondents cited are Finance minister Mthuli Ncube, Public Service minister Paul Mavhima and Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi.
The civil servants are being represented by the law firm of former Highfield MP and trade unionist Munyaradzi Gwisai, Matika and Gwisai Attorneys.
Zimta CEO Ndlovu in his founding affidavit says: “I state that the current set up with regards to the determination of conditions of service of members of the Public Service is not being done in accordance with the proper dictates of collective bargaining.
“My understanding is that collective bargaining is where the employers and employees (or their respective representatives) collectively seek to reconcile their conflicting goals through a process of mutual accommodation, and the ultimate goal being to come up with collective bargaining agreement duly signed and binding on the parties…
“Further I state that Section 31 (1) of the Public Service Act which gives the (Public Service) Commission and the Minister power to make regulations regarding conditions of service is unconstitutional. I state so because the effect of Section 203 (I) (b) of the Constitution is that the fixing of conditions of service for members of the Public Service must be done subject to collective bargaining which involves employees or their trade union, association or organisation representatives.”
The applicants said they were suing Finance minister Ncube because he is responsible for giving Mnangagwa recommendations with regards to conditions of service for civil servants in terms of section 203 (4) of the constitution.
The civil servants also averred that Ncube is complicit in their plight because he gives concurrence with regards to their conditions of service that may result in expenditure being charged on the Consolidated Revenue Fund in terms of section 19 (1) of the Public Service Act.
“Applicants are applying for an order to declare that the effect of Section 203 (1) (b) of the Constitution is that the conditions of service of members of the Public Service including their salaries, allowances and other benefits must be determined through a binding collective bargaining process involving the employer and trade unions and associations representing the employees,” reads another section of the court papers.
AG Machaya was roped into the case because he is the person who is the principal legal adviser to the government, responsible for drafting legilation on behalf of government as well as representing the government in civil and constitutional matters.
On the other hand, Ziyambi is cited in his official capacity as the person in charge of revising, reforming and reviewing laws, as well as promoting the constitution.