Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe told Business Times that government workers, who are currently off-duty following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic have threatened to down tools over the deteriorating economic situation.
The new threats come against the backdrop of this week's warning by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa on Tuesday said his administration would flush out "bad apples" that have attempted to divide people and weaken "our system".
"We are not surprised that when workers, civil servants and trade unionists stand up for better living conditions, the government will always use the old [Former President Robert] Mugabe trick of labelling them as regime change agents," Majongwe said.
"We are tired of this particular tablet and we as the trade unions have a role to play in advocating workers' conditions.
The labelling of those who want better conditions shows that the government is simply conceding that it has failed and as workers we will not pander to the wills, demands and observations of those who are enriching themselves."
Nurses at public hospitals are also carrying an industrial action against the government, senior doctors at the same institutions downed tools last week over inadequate personal protective equipment and poor remuneration.
President Mnangagwa blamed what he termed dark forces, inside and outside Zimbabwe's borders, of having tempered with the economy's growth.
Last week, main intersections leading into central business districts of cities and towns were cordoned off by security services to thwart the July 31 anti-corruption protests which Mnangagwa labelled an insurrection to overthrow a democratically elected government.
Scores of activists that include MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere and Booker prize nominee Tsitsi Dangarembga were arrested.
They are out on bail. Experts have warned that the situation will remain tense until the government resolves workers issues and human rights abuses.This week, the social media went awash with the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter hashtag as they challenged authorities to improve the high cost of living which has gone past ZWL$14,000 and gross human rights abuses.
Majongwe said one cannot overnight change into a regime change agent by simply asking for capacity to pay rentals, health facilities, food and better working conditions.
Turning to last week's protests, he said the ZWL$10,000 allowances received by security forces cannot explain the reason to shut down people who want their conditions to improve.
But Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Paul Mavima said workers should act within the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) as something outside the council will be considered political.
"As government we are part of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum where workers can come up with their grievances and we work together to find common ground and protesting with political activists will derail progress made," Mavima said.
He said protesting with activists will make the government view them as terrorists.
Finance minister Mthuli Ncube yesterday told a press briefing that the government will continue to review salaries and perks for the public service in line with the current economic environment.
In a snap survey carried out by Business Times some workers are yet to receive their US$75 allowance as some banks are giving them at a rate of ZWL$57: US$1 when the deal was announced and this is not going well with workers.
Also from the payslips seen by this publication the government is saying workers have so far received two tranches of US$75 when they have only received once.
Civil service apex council has recently courted the treasury and central bank to discuss their current plight.
But Majongwe said the apex council has failed to lead them as they advocated the removal of the United States dollars and are now crying foul with escalating living costs.
"This apex council has double standards as it ululated and dined with Zanu PF leadership on ZBC TV, why are they now asking for US$475 per month when they went to bed with the same people they agreed with," he said.
When contacted for comment Apex Council chairperson Cecilia Alexander said she was not feeling well and was not in a position to comment on the state of affairs.
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