Felex Share Senior Reporter—
Civil servants’ unions yesterday squandered a golden opportunity to meet Cabinet ministers, the central bank and the Civil Service Commission officials after they snubbed an all-inclusive indaba convened by Government to discuss their shifted pay dates.The indaba, which the unions ignored, was attended by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya, Ministers Patrick Chinamasa (Finance and Economic Development), Prisca Mupfumira (Public Service,Labour and Social Welfare), Dr David Parirenyatwa (Health and Child Care Minister) and CSC officials.
The team sought to explain circumstances surrounding the shifting of the pay dates as well as map the way forward. After rebuffing the meeting, the unions held a Press conference saying they could not attend a meeting where they were “telephonically invited.”
Minister Mupfumira yesterday said Government would grant the workers another chance tomorrow. “It was a first for such a team to be together and engage them,” she said.
“They agreed not to attend which is a disservice to themselves because this was an opportunity to hear from the horse’s mouth the way forward. We are all affected, but we needed to understand if this is going to be a normal thing or it will change. They missed that opportunity but anyway we are saying they should come on Wednesday and the same team will be ready to talk to them. The team that was present today (yesterday) agreed on improving communication between ministries and that we should also meet regularly with the workers.
“If they want to come and talk to us they should come, everyone is willing and the door is open.” According to new pay dates announced last Friday, members of the Zimbabwe National Army will be paid on June 27 followed by police and prison officers on June 30.
The education sector will be paid on July 7 followed by health workers and the rest of the civil service on July 14. Pensioners will get their dues on 19 July.
Minister Mupfumira added: “Government is not producing much for export. Industry is not moving according to plan and this means low revenue. Government has been trying to borrow money to pay people without productivity. Government is trying at least to pay workers, it might be delayed but it will be paid.”
Apex Council team leader Mrs Cecelia Alexander, told journalists that Government was negotiating in bad faith. “This follows its failure to disclose pay dates to the meeting with them on June 15, 2016 only to leak the same information to the media,” she said.
“Barely 48 hours after the meeting, the Minister telephonically summons the Apex Council to a meeting whose agenda is a closely guided secret and we have resolved that Government should formally invite workers to a meeting to discuss the urgent issue of the unilateral declaration of pay dates released to the media. We advise Government that the Apex Council will not be responsible for the workers reaction to this attack on their livelihoods of all government workers do not receive their salaries by the traditional due dates.”
Minister Mupfumira responded: “When they met (on June 15) the discussions only centered on conditions of service and welfare. The issue of dates only came to us on Friday from Treasury and we viewed this is as an emergency and I instructed my officers to call for an indaba.
“We wanted them to know the future and they agreed to attend. I think the problem is with Mrs Alexander because when she was phoned she should have said they were not able to come. Blame games will not solve anything and we expect to meet them on Wednesday.”
On releasing the new pay dates, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development cited cash flow challenges as the reasons for not paying salaries on time.