GOVERNMENT is set to implement a far-reaching overhaul of the pay structure of civil servants next month, in terms of which most employees would get modest to hefty increases in basic pay while some would see a drop in their basic pay.
The changes would affect those in the annual salary range of N$25 500 to N$540 000, and thus include some at management level.
The changes, contained in a document titled 'Reward management' would be known as the Public Service Pay and Grading structure, and would affect about two thirds of the 93 000 government employees and cost nearly N$2 billion to implement this year.
Trade unions and the government are reported to have agreed to the changes, but The Namibian understands that some civil servants who have heard of the report are already planning to oppose it. The pay structure was set up by the Office of the Prime Minister with the help of British consultants Pilat HR Solutions.
Cabinet Secretary Frans Kapofi yesterday confirmed the existence of the draft document, saying the government was committed to implementing the proposals from next month.
Kapofi said he earlier warned civil servants that the regrading system "is not going to come as honey and milk to everyone".
He said people were interviewed on what they do at work and it emerged that some positions were overpaid while others were underpaid.
He said that in the past some permanent secretaries bargained for individual civil servants who they wanted to employ or retain, resulting in some people being paid higher than market-related salaries. Kapofi said aggrieved unions and line ministries had three weeks to appeal the recommendations.
The Namibian understands that the recommendations have not gone down well with some civil servants and they are drafting a petition to object against them.
Kapofi said there was nothing wrong with a petition objecting the recommendations, but he reminded them that it was a government initiative aimed at levelling the injustice in salaries in public service, adding that consultations were still ongoing.
When implemented, the new system would run until 2018 and Kapofi said no major salary increases would be made, other than annual inflation increases. Government has failed for many years to implement a performance management appraisal system that it adopted and the proposed new system is seen to be its effort to finally put a workable job reward system in place. According to the document in possession of The Namibian, teaching and nursing staff, who went on an illegal strike last year, would be among the biggest winners in the salary regrading recommendations.
Nursing staff at entry level, including student registered nurses, medical assistants and clinical officers, would probably be the best off, with their salaries set at N$111 571 up from N$58 461. Teachers too would smile all the way to the bank, as they would receive N$136 550 at entry level, up from the current N95 181.
Contacted for comment, the Namibia National Teachers Union (Nantu) general secretary, Basilius Haingura, on Friday confirmed that he was consulting with members on the recommendations.
"The teachers themselves will have to decide whether what is on the table is acceptable or not," he said. He said the consultations were close to completion and the union would publicly announce its stance on the recommendations this week.
Haingura recently spearheaded a union warning about the lack of consultations with regard to the regrading, to the extent that they warned the government of "unspecified action" if it failed to brief them.
Petrus Nevonga, the general secretary of the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu), said it was too early to comment on the union's stance regarding the recommendations.
"Those that are aggrieved by the proposals should remain calm. There is no need to panic as we are handling the situation in the best way possible," Nevonga said.
The draft document recommends three separate reforms that include the implementation of a new pay and grading structure reflecting job evaluation exercises and a reduction in the number of job categories.
An amount of N$1,99 billion budgeted for in the 2013/2014 financial year would be used to implement the new proposed public service pay and grading structure that would see a reduction in categories from 264 to 184.
A minimum starting salary of N$25 530 per year is proposed for the lowest levels of government jobs, including cleaners. While there would be some major winners there are also bound to be some major losers in the proposed plan that also recommends that the current performance appraisal principle be revived.
Some key professionals such as pilots and dentists would see drops in their salaries from N$204 810 at entry level to N$167 054 and from N$284 067 to N$248 234 respectively. However, recruitment and retention allowances (RRAs) would be paid to such key job categories based on verifiable evidence that there exists many vacancies or that such jobs are taken up by foreigners; a change in the labour market and problems in the sectors.
Veterinarians, flight operation officers, court interpreters, legal officers and school counsellors are among the civil servants who should brace themselves for hefty pay cuts if the proposal goes through.
Ironically, court interpreters received a pay rise six years ago after embarking on an industrial action and demanded to be put on par with legal clerks but would now see their salaries slashed from N$54 639 to N$51 778 at the lowest level. This would see the gap between them and legal clerks once again widening as the latter's pay at the lowest level would increase from N$58 461 to N$74 486.
Most of the lowest paid job categories such as cleaners, labourers and handymen would see pay rises, should the proposals be approved.
However, presidential waiters, cooks and very important persons' (VIP) drivers would have to take pay cuts. This pay cut suggestion for VIP drivers ironically comes at a time when a question by DTA parliamentarian Philemon Moongo on why such drivers are not paid adequately is awaiting an answer in the National Assembly.
The document does not give an indication of the proposed pay structure of the police, defence force and prison service but states that their separate salaries scales will be aligned to the harmonised pay and grading structure.
The 51-page document suggests that the new arrangement needs to be introduced gradually to enable the development of a robust performance management system.