GOVERNMENT has a salary increment offer for civil servants to cushion them from the prevailing economic challenges set to be tabled before a National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) soon, acting Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister July Moyo, has said.
The NJNC is a statutory negotiating platform for Government and civil servants representatives.
It fixes negotiated agreements on the salaries and conditions of service for civil servants.
Speaking after a consultative meeting between a high-powered Government team and public service staff associations in Harare yesterday, Minister Moyo said the employer was fully aware of the erosion of buying power caused to its workers by rising inflation due to unjustified price increases for basic commodities and the unofficial three-tier pricing system.
“The conclusion of this discussion is that they (workers) should now, whether immediately or tomorrow, go into negotiations where Government will make an offer in terms of ameliorating the plight of the civil service in the areas that they have demanded, that is in transport, salaries and other non-monetary issues such as housing,” said Minister Moyo. He however did not reveal the figures.
“Now that we have discussed broadly, they should go back to the NJNC because it is the statutory body that can come up with signed agreements for us to go forward. Government certainly has an offer and they will discuss and agree on timing and certain parameters,” the Minister said.
“The trade unions can offer many alternatives, for instance, is the increase to apply to everybody across the board or do we favour those who are impacted on, that is, those whose salaries are lower? That we leave to them to make proposals,” said Minister Moyo.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya, Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Deputy Minister Lovemore Matuke, Civil Service Commission chairman Dr Vincent Hungwe and several permanent secretaries attended the meeting.
Minister Moyo said Government acknowledged that civil servants’ salaries had been eroded because of arbitrary price increases by manufacturers and retailers.
“We have heard the plight of our civil servants, especially of prices which are going up. Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and secretary for Finance Mr George Guvamatanga have been able to explain the nature of the economy and arbitrage that is taking place where prices are going up, sometimes without explanation,” he said.
“That is why when Government interrogates certain sectors of the economy, you see them reducing prices and the fundamental question becomes why are the prices going up in this economy in the manner they are going? It is impacting on civil servants and the generality of the people,” he said.
The Minister said the discussions went on amicably.
Apex Council acting chairperson Mr Thomas Muzondo said they were ready for the NJNC meeting.
“Government has submitted to us that they are opening channels for an NJNC meeting.They are ready. I think they have something for us and we are also ready to meet them to see what they are offering in response to our position paper. For now we are not on strike,” he said.
Mr Muzondo said their salaries had remained static while prices were rising.
Meanwhile, Government has said while acknowledging that workers’ salaries have been eroded by prices hikes, it could not pay salaries in United State dollars.
In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services said it was impossible for the Government to pay its workers in US dollars.
“In discussion with workers today Government explained that it cannot go back to paying workers in USD as in 2009. This is because the 2009 total wage bill was around $30m per month. Now it’s $300m per month. Monthly exports are around the same figure, making USD payment impossible,” said the ministry.
The Apex Council said Government workers will not be able to go to work without a cost of living adjustment hence the need to convene NJNC meeting urgently.
“The Government acknowledged the difficult circumstances workers are facing and pledged to convene an urgent NJNC meeting to address the situation. In circumstances of incapacitation, any member who faces any challenge of any nature should contact respective union for immediate help. The Apex Council would like to urge civil servants to remain calm while awaiting the outcome of the NJNC meeting which should happen in the shortest time possible,” said the Apex Council.