THE Government and representatives of civil servants will meet tomorrow in Harare for the latest round of salary talks at a time there are also indications that workers are also pushing its employer to pay a bonus of more than just the basic salary, Sunday News has learnt.
Last year civil servants expressed anger after they were paid a bonus which only reflected the basic salary minus allowances. Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza told Sunday News yesterday that consultations on bonus payment with the Apex Council were yet to take place, but they were set to meet and agree on the figures.
In August, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube hinted that depending on the situation and money available, Government might consider paying a “bonus the usual” figure. Said Prof Ncube during a mid-term budget review:
“And I insist that civil servants will get their bonuses again this year at the end of November, all of them will get paid. We want to make sure that we keep the track record in paying civil servants. You know that there was a moment when they did not know when they would get paid. Now they know exactly when they will get paid. Who knows what I will do if I end up with a small surplus at the end of the year? We will even try to outperform in our bonus payment to civil servants.”
And yesterday, Dr Nzenza affirmed the commitment to pay, before expressing concern over the rising cost of living that is eroding efforts by Government to cushion its workers.
“Once a figure has been agreed upon, we then seek Treasury concurrence. The price hikes continue to affect buying power. I am hoping that the bonuses will help ease the burden of rising costs, especially of basic commodities,” she said.
Apex Council secretary Mr David Dzatsunga said while the bonus issue was important, what was urgent was the need for a salary review.
“We are meeting on Monday and the main focus at the moment is on salary review. We have already given Government our position on salaries which is to say we want our salaries pegged at the October 2018 level of US$400. All what we are asking is for the Government to go to this level at the interbank rate,” he said.
On bonus, Mr Dzatsunga said civil servants were banking on the promise that Government will pay them next month. In August the Government increased the salaries of civil servants’ salaries by 76 percent, a development that saw the lowest paid worker earning $1 023 up from $582 per month.
Meanwhile, Apex Council president Mrs Cecilia Alexander said before the bonus issues is discussed Government has to address the issue of salaries.
“Figures and percentages don’t matter anymore in this runaway economy, what is needed is to come up with a mechanism to ensure self-correction of salaries. Something like pegging the salary at a US figure and ensure that every month end the Government simply converts that at the interbank rate,” she said.
On bonus figures, Mrs Alexander said at prevailing salaries, even if the bonus includes allowances it would not be enough.