Government cannot afford to increase civil servants’ salaries as its annual employment costs have risen steeply from $550 million in 2009 to $3 billion now against falling revenues to Treasury, it has emerged.
The employment costs include those of nine grant-aided institutions and pensioners.
In a position paper presented to civil servants’ unions during a recent National Joint Negotiating Council meeting, Government said employment costs had increased sixfold since 2009.
The NJNC platform brings together Government and civil servants’ negotiators.
“Public Service wage bill has equally grown sixfold from $381 million in 2009 to $2,2 billion in 2015,” read the Government position paper.
“The main reason behind the rapid growth of the wage bill has been wage reviews and progressive increases in employment numbers and additional ministries in particular during the period of the Government of National Unity.”
Government said the size of the civil service had grown tremendously since 2009.
“In addition, Government requires resources to keep the country functional,” reads the position paper.
“The important question to ask is whether Government has the fiscal space to do all things and increase salaries in 2015. Company closures, liquidity crunch and retrenchments have all had a huge negative effect on the revenue base of Government. In addition, the informal sector is not contributing to the fiscus.”
Government assured the workers that they would be consulted before strategies to reduce the wage bill were implemented.
This year, Government set up a committee to co-ordinate the reduction of the unsustainable civil service wage bill. The committee is led by Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa.
Reads the position paper: “Representative bodies and relevant Ministries will be engaged. Civil staff associations will hopefully accept there is a problem which requires immediate solutions. Our struggling economy cannot sustain the current high salary budget. A paradigm shift is required if this country is to come out of the woods.”
Government said trade unions should move away from the traditional approach of spearheading salary increases and betterment of conditions of service to revenue generation.
“Government is ready to receive constructive and practical solutions in its bid to improve its coffers,” reads the paper.
“There is urgent need to put in place a team of four to look at possible ways of controlling Government expenditure and increase the revenue base and these recommendations should be forwaded to Government.”
Government said a lasting solution was being worked out with regards to the recent rental hikes in all its houses, with the Public Service Commission writting to Labour and Social Services Minister Prisca Mupfumira, who in turn engaged Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Ignatius Chombo on the issue.
The rentals were increased by more than 100 percent.
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association chief executive, Mr Sifiso Ndlovu, said Government paper was “full of narratives”.
“We have to interrogate the issue of the revenue base which is being narrated, that is, the income trends and how they are being used,” he said.
“Some of their points mean we should have a sound bargaining system but that is only achievable if we know the legal support that is being put in place to support the new paradigm shift of negotiations.”
The lowest paid Government worker earns around $375 while the workers are demanding $680 for the least paid member.