Monday, 27 January 2020

GOVT, WORKERS AGREE NEW PAY DEAL


GOVERNMENT and its workers yesterday agreed on an increased pay package, understood to be more than double the pay of the lowest paid, but failed to agree when it can get into effect.

The Apex Council – an umbrella body representing all civil servants – wants the new pay scales to be backdated to January 1 this year but the Government wants to stagger the increase over several months with the full new scales coming into effect in April.

A meeting was held in Victoria Falls yesterday between the Apex Council and a nine-member team seconded by Government under the National Joint Negotiating Forum.

Speaking after the meeting, Apex Council secretary-general Mr David Dzatsunga said they agreed on the new package but the dispute was now on the implementation date.

“We agreed to disagree,” he said. “As the Apex Council, we want the new package to be effected from 1 January 2020 and Government is saying it can stagger the payment up to April. We said that is not possible in this hyper-inflationary environment. We agree to wait and see what will happen because we could not sign for that staggered arrangement.

“The ball is now in the Government’s court because these workers are working for the same Government. They have children who are not going to school now and it’s a cross that the employer should carry and see to it that the welfare of its workers is taken care of.”

Mr Dzatsunga refused to reveal the package offered by Government, saying doing so would lead to speculative tendencies on the market. 

However, it is speculated that the new pay offer will see the lowest paid Government worker earning at least $2 200 a month and probably more; a previous Government offer would have effectively doubled pay for the lowest paid.

Asked on their next move if Government sticks to its guns, Mr Dzatsunga said: “We believe Government has to do something if they want this country to work. They have to come with a survival package for the workers. The workers are struggling and Government as the employer should be sensitive to the plight of its workers.”

Mr Dzatsunga said the negotiating team from the Government was composed of people who could not make substantive decisions.

He said it was more ideal if such meetings could be attended by people like Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube who have a final say on how the Government purse is used.

Mr Dzatsunga denied allegations that they were abusing money by having their meeting in the resort town of Victoria Falls. The employees team was already in Victorial Falls for another workshop.

“Even in a crisis situation, people need to plan things,” he said. “We are here for our workshop that we planned last year with all stakeholders that have to do with Government workers salaries such as medical aid societies among others. Even the International Labour Organisation and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions are also here for that workshop. So it is not like we are here specifically for the salaries meeting only or that we are holidaying but we are having this meeting on the sidelines of our long pre-planned workshop.” Herald

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