GOVERNMENT is not happy with the level of salaries and conditions of service for civil servants and is committed to improving them once the dialogue with the workers representatives has been completed, a Cabinet Minister told Parliament yesterday. Presidential Affairs Minister Cde Didymus Mutasa said they were concerned about the poor salaries civil servants were earning.
He was responding to a question from Mkoba Member of the National Assembly, Mr Amos Chibaya (MDC-T) during the question and answer session.
Minister Mutasa, who is the leader of Government business in the National Assembly, was responding on behalf of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche who was not in the House. This comes as the civil servants yesterday submitted their position paper to the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare for consideration.
The workers have proposed a minimum salary of US$540 and 30 percent of basic salary as rural allowance.
Mr Chibaya asked Cde Mutasa what was the plan in dealing with the plight of civil servants.
Cde Mutasa responded: “We are very concerned about the meagre resources that are being given to civil servants and it is Government’s intention to raise salaries for all civil servants. There is dialogue between Government and civil servants.”
Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive Mr Sifiso Ndlovu confirmed that the unions had submitted their position paper to Government.
“The position paper was delivered to the ministry this afternoon (yesterday) though Government was worried that the demands were first leaked to the media before they got hold of them as per procedure,” he said.
The Civil Service Commission has assured the workers that mobilisation of resources to improve their salaries and working conditions was “work in progress”. In their position paper the workers also proposed a housing allowance of US$160 up from US$74 and a transport allowance of US$63 for the least paid worker.
The position paper had the input of all civil servants’ unions representatives, who had been rocked by divisions during the tenure of the inclusive Government due to leadership wrangles.
The workers said their salaries should match the Poverty Datum Line and they should be paid on cascading principle for all the grades.
The lowest-paid Government worker is getting US$297 while the PDL is above US$600.
The workers also demanded that Government should provide incentives for those working in rural areas in light of the harsh conditions in remote areas. This, they argued, would attract and retain Government workers in these areas.
The civil servants demanded land for residential stands saying most of them were tenants.
They also demanded an active participation in the indigenisation and empowerment drive being implemented by Government through the Civil Service Investment Trust.
Government established the Trust to ensure the civil servants collectively participate in the programme.
The Trust is expected to uplift the standards of living for civil servants by mobilising resources to fund acquisition of shares across the country’s entire economic spectrum.
The workers welcomed the political will demonstrated by President Mugabe and other Government officials to address their challenges, complaining that collective bargaining attempts during the tenure of the inclusive Government had been inconclusive and failed to engender any hopes at all.
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.
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.
Soon after his appointment, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Cde Nicholas Goche pledged to work with the unions promising that Government would consider every proposal by the workers.