THE cash-strapped government will pay it’s over 200,000 workers a bonus this year and is working on modalities for fresh wage negotiations, Labour Minister Nicholas Goche said Thursday.
Goche told journalists after a closed-door meeting with unionists that he had since consulted Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa and a position was taken that the bonuses will be staggered between November and December.
“The meeting was in response to a letter written to me by unions inquiring as to whether teachers will get bonuses given the rumours that had been flying around. They wanted the minister to clarify that,” said the minister.
“I had not replied to their question on bonuses because I needed to consult with treasury. That process has been completed and bonuses will be paid in a staggered form beginning November.
“They also wanted to know when new salary negotiations would begin as well as the appointment of the National Joint Negotiating Committee (NJNC).”
He said consultations with treasury and other interested parties were still ongoing regarding a new framework for salary negotiations set to begin early next year.
“As regards the new salaries I have told them that consultations are still on-going with Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa. I have also received proposals on the new NJNC chairperson’s appointment and I am still looking into that,” he said.
Only last week, government was arm-twisted into agreeing a new wage and allowance regime for medical practitioners.
However, over the course of the year and beset by liquidity challenges, the government has continued to dither on a new salary structure for teachers and other State workers.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary general Raymond Majongwe who attended the meeting told journalists that unions welcomed the government’s undertakings regarding the welfare of civil servants.
“We were primarily meeting to discuss about the issue of bonuses and this year’s budget,” he said.
“We have been promises that before Christmas we will have a chairperson for the NJNC. We also wanted to talk about the welfare of pensioners, the outstanding payments for all civil servants.
“As unions we have made representation that the lowest paid government worker should be paid $680 because we have done a sum-total analysis of the expenses that civil servants pay and that is our working figure for the consultations in 2015.”
|While government has been in the habit of paying bonuses to military service-personnel first, Majongwe warned the move could be counter-productive.“We believe in continued engagement and discussions, but if government wants to avoid the situation that we saw with medical doctors then they have to continue to engage us,” he said.“We also want teachers and other civil servants bonuses in November; this country is not for soldiers only. The kind of message they are sending when they prioritise the military is that other government workers are not important.”
He added: “The issue of housing also came up and we want government to be serious on the matter; it should not continue to be a pie in the sky.”