Civil servants salary negotiations, breakthrough imminent

By Luckmore Safuli
GOVERNMENT and the civil servants are edging closer to a breakthrough on the salary negotiations with both parties hopeful to finding common ground on the sticking issue of payment modalities of the January arrears.
The ongoing engagements being held on the sidelines of the National Joint Negotiating Council Workshop being held in Victoria Falls have yielded some positive results with parties agreeing on the revised salary offer while an agreement is yet to be reached on payment modality for January arrears.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavhima highlighted the government’s commitment to dialogue and expressed confidence that a deal will be reached during the ongoing engagements.
“My vision as the Minister is to improve the overall negotiating environment in the nation through solidifying collective bargaining arrangements within the civil service and making the Tripartite Negotiating Forum fully functional before the end of this year. The lessons learnt should assist us in coming up with our own Collective Bargaining Council for the Public Sector. I want this process to be expedited and l know that my team in the ministry will work tirelessly with all stakeholders to ensure the expeditious implementation of the recommendations. By strengthening Collective Bargaining institutions, government and its workers are on course to advancing these rights and democratising the workplace,” he said.
Public Service Commission Deputy Chairperson Ambassador Mary Muchada said government employees must be patient with the employers as strategies have been put in place to strengthen the economy.
“As the economy is expected to improve, the PSC calls on the Government workers to exercise some degree of patience. let us proceed to implement what is on the table and continue to use our negotiating table to improve things. PSC remains committed to sincere, transparent and genuine engagement with its workers on an equal footing within the provided regulations and procedures. Once issues of conditions of service have been tackled, the Government will proceed with confidence, knowing that civil servants will be more productive and service delivery enhanced for the betterment of our citizens, ” she said.
Apex Council Chairperson Cecelia Alexander said the implementation of the collective bargaining council which is critical in ironing challenges faced by civil servants.
“We are therefore keen on the speedy implementation of the much-awaited Collective Bargaining Council CBC). We are slightly happy that the NJNC has kept this issue on its agenda and substantial progress has indeed been made towards the establishment of the CBC.
The administration of pensions has always been a real thorn in the flesh for most workers many of whom have dreaded the approach of retirement into certain penury and more often than not, a miserable death.
Again we look forward to this workshop coming up with resolutions to an inclusive process towards the establishment of a pension fund. We really treasure the prioritisation of dialogue between us and believe most of our challenges are better addressed if we sit at the table and talk to one another. We need to assure you that we remain non-partisan and patriotic citizens who understand the importance of working with the Government of the day,” she said.
According to sources close to the ongoing engagements, the parties are gravitating towards an agreement with the effective date of the revised offer is one of the sticking issues.
Government is said to have offered a revised offer of 130 to 140 percent salary increase which would see the least paid employee earning between ZWL$2 200 and ZWL$ 3 500 per month. Treasury has in the past made a commitment to progressively review the civil servants’ salaries in line with the improved revenue inflows.