THE Government is working flat out to ensure its employees are paid their June salaries in batches starting this week, and is appealing to its workforce to be stoic as the State works to ease cash flow challenges.
Acting Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Supa Mandiwanzira last night said the Government was aware of the various obligations workers needed to attend to. His statements followed a resolution yesterday by the Apex Council — which represents Government employee unions — to embark on a full-scale industrial action on 5 July over delays in payments of June salaries. Workers said they would not be able to report for duty from Tuesday saying they were incapacitated as they had not received their dues.
Minister Mandiwanzira said: “We continue to appeal to the hard-working servants as we try to meet their salary expectations. The current cash inflow challenges in the country have affected salary payments, but Government is addressing the issue as we are aware civil servants have financial obligations that must be met on time. We are also aware that most of them have running loans that are automatically deducted from their accounts. We are working on paying their salaries as promised by the Ministry of Public Service.”
The Government last week offered each employee US$100 as a cushion until full salaries could be paid. Apex Council chairperson Mrs Cecilia Alexander said: “Today (yesterday) we unanimously agreed with other unions, which include educators, health and other civil servants unions, to stay away from work until our salaries have been paid in full. The reason for our action is that we are incapacitated to go to work because we have not been paid our June salaries by our employer. The US$100 advance salary we were offered is not enough because of other commitments such as loans that need to be paid. So we have resolved to stay away as from Tuesday until our full dues are paid.”
As of yesterday, some medical personnel in Harare and Bulawayo had stopped reporting for duty. Mpilo Central Hospital clinical director Mr Solwayo Ngwenya confirmed that doctors had not reported for duty at the institution.
“The people who wrote in the letter from Harare are the same people that are also here and yes, our doctors have joined the strike as of 1 July and up to now they are still on strike. We are currently attending to emergencies only at Mpilo,” he said.
Mr Ngwenya said he was not sure what the situation will be like in the next few days as some more doctors may join the strike.
“It is not sustainable at all that we have such a scenario, we are waiting for direction from national level and at the moment this is the situation on the ground, the doctors are on strike,” he said.
United Bulawayo Hospitals clinical director Dr Narcisaus Dzanga, however, said doctors at the institution were reporting for work.
“As of Friday 9pm all our doctors were there, they had not joined the strike. In fact we are surprised it is being called a strike, they (doctors) are suggesting that they come to work three times a week until the situation is resolved,” he said.
The Government delayed salary payments of civil servants this month due to shortages of funds with only members of security sectors having been paid. Teachers are expected to get their salaries on 7 July while health workers and the rest of the civil service will be paid on 14 July. Zimbabwe Teachers Association secretary-general Mr John Mlilo said there would be no street demonstrations as alluded to by some quarters.
“We will be on stay-away from 5 July and we will not be holding any marches or protests. We are not able to report for duties because we do not have the money to report for duty,” he said.
The Government is also rationalising the civil service to cut the wage bill, which stands at US$200 million per month — more than 80 percent of monthly revenue. — Harare Bureau/ Sunday News Reporter