19 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Minister Agrees to Meet Civil Servants

The Minister of Public Service has finally agreed to meet civil servants' unions and give them an update on their salaries and working conditions.

The minister had been avoiding the workers for the whole of last year arguing the Apex Council -- a body that represents Government employees - was not properly constituted.

In a letter addressed to the civil servants' union leaders, Minister Lucia Matibenga said she would meet the workers next Thursday.

"I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated January 16, 2013 in which you are requesting for a consultative meeting with me on Tuesday 22 January, 2013.

"Please be advised that I will be occupied with Cabinet business on the proposed date. I will be able to meet with you on Thursday January 24, 2013 at Kaguvi boardroom at 14:40hours," read the letter.

The workers earlier this week wrote to the minister requesting for the meeting.

Apex council chairperson Mr David Dzatsunga yesterday said the workers needed an explanation on why Government failed to effect the increase it promised to award the workers this month.

Government promised to effect a 5,5 percent inflation-related increment on the workers' salaries this month but failed.

"This is good news and we will know how to move forward because for the whole of last year, we did not meet any Government official over the issue of salaries," Mr Dzatsunga said.

"What we need is the Government's position on salaries and working conditions because our members are in the dark at the moment. They were expecting an increase, which they never saw."

Government has been mum over the issue insisting that the Apex Council was not properly constituted and there was no one to hold salary negotiations with.

The term of office of the old committee, led by Zimta president Mrs Tendai Chikowore, expired in February last year.

The unions held elections that brought in the Dzatsunga-led executive.

However, the elections were dismissed as "unconstitutional" by the Public Service Association, a union that represents most of the workers who are not in the education sector.

Since then the unions have been embroiled in a leadership wrangle that saw negotiations with Government collapsing.

Because of the wrangles unions were now meeting Government separately.

The lowest-paid Government employee is getting US$296 per month while the poverty datum line is over US$600.

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