Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Reporter
Civil servants have threatened to go on strike on January 1, 2016 if Government fails to come up with measure to enable them to report for work as they wait for January 5 to receive their December salaries.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa last week announced that the December salary payment date for all other civil servants, health workers included, had been moved from December 29 to January 5.
Salary payment dates for those in the education sector were also moved from December 28 to today.
Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZiNA) general secretary Mr Enock Dongo said nurses understood the difficulties faced by the Government in financing its operations.
Mr Dongo said Government should have, however, consulted with health workers on how best to handle the issue of salary payments to avoid demoralising the employees and actions that might come out of their frustrations.
“Let it be known that our meagre salaries cannot stretch beyond the 31st of December 2015 as we had made budgets with pay dates in mind.
“As such, we would like to announce that as of 1st January, we do not have transport money to go to work which simply means that we will be home starving without even food and rentals, not mentioning money for school fees.
“This can only be reversed if Government makes transport arrangements for our workforce to and from work and or pay us on 29 December,” said Mr Dongo.
The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) national executive said in a statement yesterday that it would soon be communicating formally with concerned Government departments of their position to down tools come January 1.
“The ZHDA will immediately send formal communication to the Minister of Health, Minister of Finance (and Economic Development), clinical directors and heads of departments on this strict deadline. Our legal advisors have also been tasked to mount a legal challenge on this contractual violation. Measures will be enacted to protect our doctors from threats and victimisation,” it said.
The ZHDA also expressed concern over failure by their employer to offer them non monetary incentives in view of the limited fiscal space, to keep them motivated.
The ZHDA also said the continuous flamboyance in the Health Services Board and Government was not in tandem with the limited fiscal space.
It said the HSB flamboyance was unearthed by the office of the Auditor General in the 2014 audit report.
“We call upon Government to immediately come up with an alternative funding model for health workers salaries as we foresee a turbulent 2016 should this anaemic and lethargic approach to health workers salaries continue,” it said.
Apex chairperson, Mr Richard Gundani, described the current state of affairs as a crisis that needed urgent action to ensure that all civil servants are paid before the end of the year.
“We have reached a crisis point where Government should do whatever it takes to ensure that all its workers are paid this side of the year to facilitate work that the employees are supposed to do next year,” said Mr Gundani.
He said in the absence of a salary to cushion transport costs between the 1st and 5th of January, workers would be in a financial quandary.
“This year has not been a good year for employees in Zimbabwe characterised by job insecurities from the Supreme Court ruling (July), uncertainties and we surely wanted it to come to an end but the final blow has come right at the end of the year where we all expected to get our salaries plus the bonus.
“Instead, the December pay date has been shifted and there are no dates for bonuses, this brings untold suffering to civil servants who were already struggling to survive on meagre salaries,” said Mr Gundani.
He said should Government stick to paying its employees December salaries next year, it risked failing to pay all salaries on time during the course of 2016.
The civil servants also decried failure by Government to clear the air on payment of bonuses as promised.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association secretary general, Mr John Mulilo, said the educators were not only dejected but also demotivated.
“Furthermore, educators are not only dejected that for the first time in many years they shall spend Christmas Holiday without receiving salaries, but they are also demotivated by the employer’s processes and promises made without any defined time frames,” said Mr Mulilo.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira said her Ministry sympathised with the employees as it had not anticipated the latest development.
She said when salary schedules were done at the beginning of the year and if all happened according to plan, all civil servants should have been paid before the end of the year.
“We understand the plight of the worker but we have no control over what is happening,” said Minister Mupfumira.
She said her Ministry was also not in a position to take the issue to the table with employees because it was a finance issue.
“The communication only came last week and there was no room for us to negotiate with employees on what should be done. If it was within my control, we could have negotiated,” she said.
Minister Mupfumira also said she could not give a date on when employees would receive their bonuses as that also depended with treasury but reiterated that they would get their bonuses as assured by the President.
Minister Chinamasa could not be reached for a comment yesterday.