Patrick Chitumba — Midlands Bureau Chief
CIVIL servants must be patient with the Government which is committed to improving their conditions of service in line with the prevailing economic environment, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima has said.
He said Government will increase civil servants' salaries guided by stabilisation of the economy which will take a bit of time to achieve due to fiscal limitations.
Prof Mavima's call comes after the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education revealed that some teachers, who make up the bulk of civil servants, were not reporting for duty citing incapacitation.
In an interview yesterday, he said the review of salaries will be a continuous process through quarterly meetings of the National Joint Negotiation Council (NJNC).
"We call upon civil servants to be patient with the Government which is committed to improving their conditions of service. Government is committed to reviewing their salaries in line with the prevailing economic conditions. The review of salaries will be a continuous process through quarterly meetings of the National Joint Negotiation Council," he said.
Prof Mavima said the next round of negotiations under NJNC will be held during the last quarter of the year.
He said the "bad blood" between the civil servants especially teachers and their employer should come to an end through negotiations so that an understanding is reached.
"The so-called bad blood emanated from the monetary changes that took place in 2018 when the Government was on a stabilisation programme. Due to fiscal limitations, it will take a while to claw back to 2018 salary and wage levels and we remain committed to improving their conditions of service. There is a need for patience on the part of employees. Government is sincere in making sure that there will be conditions that sufficiently motivate our public service employees for effective performance," said Prof Mavima.
Apex Council deputy secretary-general Mr Gibson Mushangu said they last had a meeting with the Government under NJNC on August 11.
"We last had a meeting with the employer on August 11. We had asked the Government to go and source more resources to fund our salaries. We also brought in the issues of our medical scheme under Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS), the pension fund and Government Employees Mutual Savings (GEMS) Fund which we feel are not really benefiting us," he said.
Mr Mushangu said civil servants want Government to conduct workshops for them so that they are abreast with its programmes that are aimed at improving their conditions of service.
"There are issues to do with our pension fund, PSMAS which are aimed at improving our conditions of service. We want the Government to unpack these so that we are all on the same wavelength. So, we have asked for workshops to unpack issues to do with PSMAS, GEMS among others so that we all understand them and benefit from them since we are the major beneficiaries of these schemes," he said.
Mr Mushangu said they are looking forward to the last quarter of the year in which they expect the Government to call for the NJNC salary negotiating meeting.
"We appreciate that the Government in some forums is actually saying that the salaries which we are getting as civil servants have been eroded by inflation. It shows that they are aware of our need for salary review and therefore we remain positive that the NJNC will bring a positive result this last quarter," he said.