Salary negotiations between the Government and civil service unions have been adjourned to tomorrow amid reports that the least-paid worker has been offered US$375 per month. This represents a US$79 increment on the basic pay as Government moves towards fulfilling its pledge to have a salary based on the poverty datum line by year end.
The PDL, according to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, stands at US$540.
Employees in grade B1 presently earn US$296 monthly, and it is understood the workers' unions yesterday rejected the offer to increase this to US$375, but agreed to report back to their constituency and see if the figure is acceptable.
The Government team, led by Mr Maxwell Ranga, also reportedly promised to consult with their superiors ahead of tomorrow's deliberations.
Government tabled offers for increments for all pay grades.
It offered US$500 -- up from US$446 -- for civil servants in grade D1 (such as teachers straight out of college), while US$623 was proposed for deputy directors who fall in the E1 category.
Deputy directors are at the moment getting US$521 monthly.
The offer is for basic salaries only and does not include allowances, which are likely to remain unchanged for now.
Speaking after the meeting yesterday, Apex Council team leader and Zimbabwe Teachers Association president Mr Richard Gundani confirmed Government had tabled some figures, but he declined to disclose them to the media.
He said what had been tabled was "inconclusive" in the eyes of the workers.
"In good faith we are not releasing the proposals because as we speak they might have changed that. Let us wait for Friday's meeting," he said.
"Part of the presentations have been made today by Government with regards to remuneration proposals. The positive thing is that Government is bringing to the table a proposal.
"It is not conclusive in our view and there is still some work that needs to be done. This is why we had to call for this adjournment to allow Government to go back and refine their proposal," Mr Gundani went on.
He said the two sides had disagreed on the PDL, with Government saying it stood at US$500, while the workers suggested US$540.
"It is important to talk about the PDL because this is the premise of the negotiations and that is where the minimum wage comes from. We should iron out that, then we move forward and that will happen on Friday.
"We are looking at this meeting to conclude these issues so that we do not keep our members waiting. They have done that for a long time and promises have been made over and over again but no implementation or no clear way forward has been given by Government."
In their position paper, workers demanded US$543 as the minimum salary for the least paid employee, and 30 percent of the basic salary as a rural allowance. They also want non-monetary benefits.
Sources said civil servants union leaders had agreed that the proposal by Government was "unacceptable".
"We came out disgruntled because we believe the figure is paltry after waiting for so long," said one source.
"They should go back to the drawing board and we wanted to meet tomorrow (today) but they said they needed time to consult."
Another source said the good thing was that negotiations had begun.
"We feel the PDL is a bit suppressed and we have asked for a review," he said. "The negotiations have started on a good note although we do not agree on one or two things. We are glad we are making headway."
There are an estimated 230 000 civil servants on Government's payroll and the wage bill already chews over 70 percent of the total National Budget.
About 73 percent of the US$4,2 billion 2014 National Budget presented by Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa last month is recurrent expenditure .
This comes on the back of poor revenue performance with cumulative expenditures to November last year amounting to US$3,526 billion against a target of US$3,396 billion, resulting in expenditure overrun of US$130 million.
The proposed increment of around 20 percent will add that much to recurrent expenditure.