Civil servants’ unions have resolved to hold an indaba seeking input on how best to align the Apex Council, a body that represents them, with the new Constitution as they prepare for salary negotiations with a new government.Section 203 of the new Constitution stipulates that the Civil Service Commission “fixes and regulates conditions of service including salaries, allowances and other benefits of members of the civil service”.
In fixing the salaries and other benefits, the CSC must act “with the approval of the President given on the recommendation of the minister responsible for finance and after consultation with the minister responsible for civil service”.
But the workers are expected to come up with a consolidated position paper which they would hand over to Government.
President Mugabe has pledged to improve civil servants salaries and working conditions before the end of the year.
Speaking after an Apex Council meeting in Harare yesterday, Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive Mr Sifiso Ndlovu said they wanted to work in line with the demands of the new Constitution.
“The new Constitution has certain provisions that force us to align ourselves with it,” he said.
“All unions have to be respected and as such we have agreed to have an input from every stakeholder in and outside Government as we prepare to come up with a position paper.”
Dates for the indaba are yet to be announced.
Mr Ndlovu appealed to President Mugabe to appoint ministers of Finance and Public Service who are sensitive to the plight of the workers.
“We are impressed in that we are going to deal with a single political party in negotiations following the win by Zanu-PF,” he said.
“Our appeal to the highest authority (President Mugabe) for him to give us someone who is dependable not what we had in the past.”
The civil servants had a torrid time in getting a salary increment during the tenure of the inclusive Government as outgoing Finance Minister Tendai Biti repeatedly told them that Government had no money to adjust their income.
The then Public Service Minister Lucia Matibenga refused to engage them in salary negotiations and was arrogant in the few times they met, charged the civil servants.
The lowest Government worker is getting US$296 while the poverty datum line is over US$600.
College Lecturers Association of Zimbabwe president Mr David Dzatsunga said the planned indaba should come with ways of engaging with Government.
“It’s a fact that following the invention of the new Constitution, we have to have legal framework and negotiating team that dovetail with the new supreme law,” he said.
“We are happy that following promises by President Mugabe, the unions have agreed to put their heads together as we prepare to come up with a consolidated position paper.”
He said while it could be difficult for Government to address all their issues once, they were happy that they now had a ‘listening ear.’
“Members from the outgoing Cabinet did not even want to negotiate let alone hear the issue of civil servants,” Mr Dzatsunga said.
“This is a new era for the workers and we should now organise ourselves as we walk on the new path.”