CIVIL servants' representatives met in Harare yesterday to come up with a position paper demanding a minimum salary of US$540 a month and 30 percent of basic salary as rural allowance. In the position paper, that would be handed over to the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare today, the workers also proposed a housing allowance of US$160 and transport allowance of US$63 for the least-paid worker.
This comes after the Civil Service Commission last week urged the workers to draft a position paper on their salaries and conditions of service before engaging Government for negotiations under the National Joint Negotiating Council.
All civil servants' unions representatives, who had been rocked by divisions during the tenure of the inclusive Government due to leadership wrangles, attended yesterday's meeting.
In their demands, the workers stated that the least-paid Government worker should get a minimum salary that is in line with the Poverty Datum Line and that the salaries be paid on a cascading principle for all the grades.
"We demand that the lowest paid civil servant in B1 Grade be paid a salary equivalent to the current Poverty Datum Line estimated at US$540, broken down as follows: basic salary from US$159 to US$317, housing allowance from US$74 to US$160 and a transport allowance of US$63," read the position paper.
The lowest-paid Government worker is getting US$297.
The workers also demanded that Government should provide incentives for those working in rural areas in light of the harsh conditions in remote areas.
"70 percent of Zimbabweans live in the rural areas and the majority of civil service workers work in rural areas too," the paper stated.
"In order to incentivise, attract and retain civil servants to remain in these difficult areas, we demand that a Rural Service Allowance be pegged at 30 percent of one's basic salary.
The workers also demanded land for residential stands.
"The majority of civil service workers have no houses of their own and pay heavily in rentals, thus we demand that Government urgently avail land for residential housing for civil service workers," the position paper read.
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.
"We demand that the Civil Service Investment Trust be activated, supported, legally and with relevant human and financial infrastructure so as to give effect to the participation of civil service workers on the indigenisation and economic empowerment programme," the paper read.
"We also demand the offices of Government involve and engage civil service workers on processes and activities that have an effect on the workers or require implementation by the workers. We believe that if the issues are addressed urgently, then the morale, industrial harmony and productivity of the Government employees will be increased."
The workers said the political will demonstrated by Government would ensure that the issues would be solved "without hassles at all."
They said past collective bargaining attempts during the tenure of the inclusive Government had been inconclusive and failed to engender any hopes at all.
"It is in light of the most welcome and robust commitments, which are on record, by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Cde Robert Mugabe and Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche, who both observed that there is urgent need to address the plight of the civil service workers; we now approach your office to interpret and concretise this commitment," read the position paper.
During last week's meeting with the CSC, the workers were told that mobilisation of resources to improve their salaries and working conditions was "work in progress."
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.