6 January 2016

Zimbabwe: Civil Servants Fail to Pin Government On Bonus Dates, Only January Salary Confirmed

Photo: The Herald
(file photo)

THE high profile meeting between government and civil servants' representatives Wednesday failed to yield any positive results for the country's troubled workforce after the state refused to commit itself to specific dates on which it was prepared to pay its workers their 2015 bonuses.

Although state media claimed that government had announced pay dates for the year, it later emerged that the only pay schedule confirmed was for January and no later.

Zimbabwe Teachers Union (Zimta) CEO, Sifiso Ndlovu told NewZimbabwe.com that the meeting ended with nothing to inspire hope among public servants.

"It was a protracted discussion in which the government could not give dates to our bonus payments," he said.

"It remained entrenched in its position saying they were riding on a precarious economy, highly unpredictable; against a background of missed revenue targets in 2015 making it difficult for them to meet their statutory obligations."

Ndlovu added: "That matter was declared a stalemate; no agreement could be reached.

"However, as per statutory requirement, this matter will be revisited again on the second and third meeting before it is declared a deadlock."

Wednesday's meeting, which lasted five hours at government's Kaguvi Building, was called to diffuse tensions between the restless public employees and their broke employer.

This follows repeated payment glitches which have seen government fail to remunerate its workers on time for parts of 2015, December being the worst month.

But for all their troubles, Ndlovu said, civil servants' unions failed to get meaningful concessions from the nine-member team of government negotiators who sat on the other side of the negotiating table.

"At the present moment, these deliberations do not give hope," said the Zimta boss.

"What came out here is a situation which looks desperate from the government narratives, an indication that the country is at sixes and sevens as to the way forward in managing this economy."

However, the state pledged to pay its workers their normal monthly salaries on time this January.

Progressive Teachers Unions of Zimbabwe secretary general Raymond Majongwe said he was equally disappointed when government turned down their pleas to revise downwards, pension deductions from the current $40 per month to $10.

"Our demand was very clear, that government with immediate effects stops any deductions of amounts ranging from $35 to $40 dollars," he said, adding that the newly reintroduced levies eroded their small income.

"As we are concerned, any deduction of that particular nature rendered us non-functional in terms of paying our bills, school fees and many other things.

"All we are ready to compromise on is that the lowest amount we can pay is just between five and $10 as a pension contribution because when this stopped in the first place, it was very clear that workers were suffering, the economy was not performing."

NewZimbabwe.com could not readily get comment from government.

The parties will meet against on Friday to continue with the deliberations after they would have both consulted their senders.

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