6 January 2016

Zimbabwe: Govt Pays Civil Servants, Convenes Indaba

Photo: The Herald
(file photo)

GOVERNMENT yesterday paid the last batch of civil servants their December 2015 salaries and called for a meeting with the workers' representatives today to discuss issues affecting the workers and what is being done to address them.

Among the issues workers expect to be tabled today are modalities on the payment of the 2015 annual bonuses, the ongoing rationalisation of the civil service and 0deductions on their salaries that were effected last month.

Acting Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Cde Saviour Kasukuwere, yesterday confirmed Government had cleared the dues.

"Government has fulfilled its commitment and we thank the Ministry of Finance (and Economic Development) for that and also the workers for their patience and understanding," he said.

"Now that all have been paid, we have called for a National Joint Negotiating Council meeting tomorrow (today) that brings together the Government and employees side together to further deepen communication between the two parties. We will continue explaining to each other what we are doing and some of the challenges that may arise."

Because of low revenue inflows, Government paid some members of the uniformed forces before Christmas Day, while those in the education sector got their salaries last Tuesday.

All the remaining civil servants were paid yesterday.

The delays had seen some Government workers, mainly those in the health sector, threatening to strike.

They only called off their plans after meeting

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya last Wednesday, who showed them what Government had in its coffers and assured them that their bonuses would be paid as promised by President Mugabe early last year.

The RBZ chief also assured them that pay dates would be constant this year.

Civil servants unions met yesterday in preparation for today's meeting but spent the better part of the day squabbling over leadership positions.

The term of the current leadership, led by Zimbabwe Teachers Association president, Mr Richard Gundane expired on December 31 and has to be replaced.

They later resolved that the current leadership lead them in today's meeting and seek the actual dates when bonuses would be paid.

Teachers Union of Zimbabwe chief executive Mr Manuel Nyawo, said they were seeking an explanation on the deductions that were being effected on their salaries.

"(Apex) council members want a new leadership now but there has to be progress in negotiations," he said.

"While we spent the better part of the day arguing, it was later resolved that we seek clarification on a number of issues chief among them the payment of the 13th cheque."

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary general, Mr Raymond Majongwe said: "We had a contested meeting as we spent time on power struggles, heckling and quarrelling. We, however, hope today's meeting will give us a clear picture of where we are going."

Zimbabwe Rural Teachers Union president, Mr Martin Chaburumunda, said they also expected to table issues affecting rural educators.

"Over and above bonuses and the unilateral deductions by Government we are also against the signing of pay sheets during holidays because teachers will be forced to come to their work stations, which is an expense," he said.

"We also want to get the progress made on introducing a hardship allowance to the rural teacher."

Government last month started deducting a 7, 5 percent pension contribution from civil servants' salaries as they have not been paying pension since 2009 when everyone was getting a flat $100.

The situation became unsustainable and a huge backlog of commutations accumulated.

Government is also carrying out a rationalisation exercise to reduce its $150 million monthly wage bill by plugging unnecessary expenditure.

Student teachers and trainees' allowances have been reduced from $329 to $157 while salaries paid to teachers at trust and private schools by Government have been terminated.

All vacant posts have been abolished, bus fare for civil servants has been re-introduced, under-used staff is being redeployed, funding of bridging courses has been scrapped while all members who were abusing various types of leave, tampering with pay sheets and attendance registers have been charged.

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