CIVIL servants will get a salary increment this month, with the Government offering what is available in its coffers, while negotiations for a better package continue under the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC).
On Thursday, the Government went into the NJNC meeting with a proposal for a 25 percent pay rise effective this month followed by another 50 percent in June, but civil servants’ representatives declined the offer.
However, the Government insists that it will effect an increment from what it can afford this month without prejudicing negotiations.
This is being done because not all civil servants belong to workers’ unions, and might not wish to miss out on the immediate improvement to their working conditions pending the conclusion of negotiations in the NJNC.
It is anticipated that as the economy rallies, the Government will improve civil servants salaries, in view of projections for economic growth this year.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncuce has projected the economy to rally by 7,4 percent this year, which is the highest growth rate achieved in the past five years.
International finance organisations such as the World Bank (WB)and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have also confirmed that Zimbabwe’s economy will record positive numbers.
In a statement, Public Service Commission (PSC) chairperson Ambassador Jonathan Wutawunashe said negotiations between the Government and its workers were continuing despite the two parties reaching a deadlock last week.
He however, did not indicate when the talks would resume.
“Government is pleased to advise that the meeting between workers’ representatives and the Government team in the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) continued in earnest and in a very honest way,” said Ambassador Wutawunashe.
“While continuing with the crucial negotiations, Government wishes to implement payment of increments from what is immediately available to support its workforce, without prejudice to the negotiating process, which must continue. It needs to be borne in mind in that regard that some civil servants do not belong to any union, and might not wish to forgo the immediate improvement of their emoluments pending the conclusion of negotiations in the NJNC.”
In rejecting Government’s offer to stagger the 75 percent salary increment that it has already committed to, unions representing the civil servants demanded that the larger proportion of the staggered offer be paid out first.
Ambassador Wutawunashe said the Government was not in a position to offer a larger increment immediately as its revenue streams have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
This year, Treasury has doled out US$100 million for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines to protect the population from the pandemic, leaving a huge dent in Government’s coffers.
Ambassador Wutawunashe said Government was facing constraints emanating from a prolonged economic shutdown period within the country owing to the lockdown measures instituted to manage the Covid-19 pandemic.
“During this period, revenue generation was reduced to virtual insignificance. There were also payments for vaccines against Covid-19 pandemic, with the aim of administering doses to at least 60 percent of the population, thus achieving a measure of herd immunity.
“Even as Government faced these constraints, it remained committed to fulfilling the payment of salaries and benefits to all civil servants, including those who were at home during the long periods of national lockdown restrictions,” he said.
Ambassador Wutawunashe said Government anticipates that as the economy opens up, more revenue streams will be unlocked and this will see civil servants smiling all the way to the bank.
“As the economy improves, Government anticipates more space for further improving conditions of service for its workers. Government is committed to the collaborative task of developing a realistic roadmap that will guide deliberations as we move ever closer to the attainment of Vision 2030.
“Government reiterates its commitment to continuous and fruitful engagement with its workers towards improving conditions of service and ensuring a living wage for its valued workforce.
“In that spirit, Government welcomes the opportunity to keep engaging with workers’ representatives in the NJNC, the forum established officially for the discussion of conditions of service for all civil servants.”
Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (ZCPSTU) secretary-general Mr David Dzatsunga said they had rejected the Government’s offer but are committed to negotiations.
“We rejected the offer on the premise that it does not go anywhere near the plight that the civil servants are grappling with,” he said.
Apex Council president Mrs Cecilia Alexander was not available for comment.