Felex Share Herald Reporter
The Civil Service Commission has urged civil servants’ unions to come up with a position paper on their salaries and conditions of service and start engaging their parent ministry under the National Joint Negotiating Council. The NJNC is a platform that brings together workers’ representatives and Government negotiators.
The CSC proposal for civil servants to come up with a position paper comes at a time Government is reportedly making frantic efforts to mobilise resources to improve their salaries and condition of service.
Several civil servants’ unions and Government staff associations yesterday met the CSC chairman, Dr Mariyawanda Nzuwah, and the Commission’s secretary, Mrs Pretty Sunguro, to exchange notes and were tasked to come up with their proposals for consideration at the NJNC level.
Speaking after the meeting, Teachers Union of Zimbabwe chief executive Mr Manuel Nyawo said the CSC urged them to open dialogue with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.
The commission, he said, told them that mobilisation of resources to improve their salaries and working conditions was “work in progress.”
“They said they were pooling resources to try and fulfil the pledge made by President Mugabe that salaries need to be improved before the end of the year,” said Mr Nyawo.
“As such, we were tasked to go and agree on proposals as unions after which we would engage with our parent ministry which will inform us on the position that Government would have concerning the issue of salaries.”
Mr Nyawo said the civil servants unions would meet soon to agree on the position paper as they were expectant that they would get something before the end of the year.
Yesterday’s meeting also looked at the legal framework governing the operations of the unions to ensure that they are in line with the new Constitution.
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association president Mr Richard Gundane said they were elated that the commission agreed with them that the Poverty Datum Line should be used as a threshold for the least paid Government worker.
“We must urgently convene under the NJNC and give our proposals but we are elated that we have an agreement with the commission. It might not be what they have but they appreciate that salaries should be in line with the PDL,” he said.
“In terms of aligning the Public Service Act with the new Constitution, we were told that Acts of Parliament and Statutory Instruments we have at the moment will continue working until they are amended. We understand this because we are on a transitional period.”
The lowest paid Government worker is getting US$297 while the PDL is over US$600.
President Mugabe has indicated, on different platforms, that the new Zanu-PF Government prioritises the welfare and conditions of service for civil servants and would improve them before the end of the year.
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Mr Raymond Majongwe and College Lecturers’ Association of Zimbabwe president Mr David Dzatsunga said Dr Nzuwah had assured them that non-monetary incentives would also be considered.
“The issue is not only about money but other non-monetary benefits as President Mugabe lamented while officially opening Parliament on Tuesday,” said Mr Majongwe.
“What needs to be improved here are the lives of civil servants hence we welcome the idea of putting in place various incentives which motivate the workforce.”
Said Mr Dzatsunga: “We are now heading somewhere and we welcome the open-door policy by the commission.
“Every union has been given the green light to approach the commission if there are any challenges. In response, we are getting down to business and do what we have been advised to work on.”
Civil servants have failed to get a meaningful salary increment for the past five years due to policy inconsistencies by MDC-T ministers in the inclusive Government.
The then Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, repeatedly told them that Government was broke while the then Public Service Minister, Lucia Matibenga, was “arrogant” and evaded the workers in times of negotiations.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Cde Nicholas Goche last week pledged to work with the unions promising that Government would consider every proposal by the workers.