The Sunday News
Lincoln Towindo, Senior Reporter
Government and representatives of civil servants are set to meet today after the latter turned down Government’s revised salary offer made on Friday, which would see the least-paid employee earning between $2 200 and $3 500 per month.
A National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) meeting between Government negotiators and public sector workers’ representatives under the Apex Council also failed to agree on the effective date of the proposed salary increment.
Parties will reconvene today after consulting their constituencies. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Mr Simon Masanga, said he was out of the country and referred further questions to union leaders.
Apex Council secretary-general, Mr David Dzatsuga, confirmed Government’s revised offer, but could not reveal the quantum of the proposed increase.
He, however, said he was hopeful that today’s meeting might possibly break the deadlock.
“The outcome of the meeting was not conclusive. The employer came with a revised offer to which we did not immediately agree to before we consult our members; as you are aware, we get our mandate from our members.
“We also disagreed on the issue of the effective date of that offer.”
Government is reportedly pushing for the pay increase to be made in February since it paid a cushioning allowance to civil servants this month, but unions insist it should be effective from January 1.
Government’s salary offer, Mr Dzatsunga added, was not yet concrete.
“It’s premature to talk about figures at the moment and we are under strict instructions not to speak about the figures because these are still proposals and nothing has been concretised as yet. We are hopeful that there will be an agreement.”
Public Service Association and Apex Council president, Mrs Cecilia Alexander, confirmed that Friday’s meeting was inconclusive. Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president, Mr Takavafira Zhou, believes the latest offer falls short of their expectations.
“Government wants to offer between 130 percent to 140 percent increase and this does not address the workers’ concerns.
“Ours is a dispute of right because Government reduced its workers’ salaries unilaterally. Workers do not need a salary increase, all they need is the restoration of the (purchasing) power parity (of their previous salaries).
“The gist of the matter is to restore parity back to the US$500 salary for the least-paid worker, in terms of the interbank rate.
“The offer they came with, which is of between $2 200 and $3 400, does not address the challenge.”
Government offered its workers a 100 percent salary bump during the last round of negotiations, which would have seen the lowest-paid civil servant earning around $2 033 per month.
The unions then held consultative meetings with their members last week, who insisted on an adjustment that would see the lowest-paid worker taking home the equivalent of US$475 (about $8 075) on the interbank market. In addition, public sector workers also received cushioning allowances ranging from $400 to $700 depending on grade last week.
Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube recently indicated that Government, which also has to finance food and power imports in the wake of last year’s drought, would progressively review salaries in line with improved revenues.