Tuesday, 28 January 2020

WE HAVE SUFFERED ENOUGH : CIVIL SERVANTS ACCEPT POOR PAY DEAL


THE Government has agreed to effect civil servants’ salary increment from the beginning of this month instead of February.

Apex Council, the umbrella body representing all civil servants, and Government had on Monday agreed on the new salary scale but disagreed on the effective date.  Negotiations continued here yesterday, resulting in the agreement being struck.  

Apex Council president, Mrs Cecilia Alexander said although the Government’s salary offer was below their expectations, they accepted it while negotiations for a better package continue as a compromise for the sake of civil servants who are in a desperate situation. 

Civil servants wanted the increment backdated to January and paid once-off or over two months while Government proposed to stagger it until April.

The parties are meeting here on the sidelines of the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) and Health Service Bipartite Negotiating Panel workshop currently underway.

Yesterday evening the Apex Council convened soon after Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima officially opened the workshop where he had called for a compromise between civil servants’ expectations and what Government can afford.

Coming out of that meeting, Mrs Alexander said they will however only sign the agreement when Government agrees to pay the difference for the January salaries once off or over two months. 

She declined to reveal the new pay offer saying it was premature to talk about it. However, sources said Government had offered 140 percent salary increase across the board.

Mrs Alexander said there has been progress in their negotiations.

“I can confirm that there have been negotiations going on between Government and civil servants represented by the Apex Council here in Victoria Falls. There has been progress in terms of effective date as you are aware in our last negotiation Government proposed to pay as from 1 February but now they have brought forward the effective date,” she said.

“It is still work in progress and there are a lot of pressures. Government proposed to pay the January balance staggered over four months and we are meeting again this evening to try and push them to pay in two months.

“We are agreed on all other areas but still the Government offer is not at the level we expected. It’s far less but because our members are desperate, it’s better we take what’s there for now and continue negotiating,” said Mrs Alexander.
  
She said civil servants had suffered enough hence the decision to accept Government’s offer. “Salary is a survival issue,” she said.

“Our entry point was that our salaries be indexed or paid using the interbank rate but for now we have climbed down so that people get something while we continue to negotiate.”

Mrs Alexander said the Apex Council is also pushing Government to have salaries reviewed every quarter. Prof Mavima said Government had made a solid offer.

 “As Government we believe we have made a solid offer to the civil servants but however there is a sticking issue of payment of the arrears from January hence the negotiations have adjourned to tomorrow,” he said.

Addressing the workshop earlier, he said Government was committed to improving conditions of service for civil servants because economic development predominantly rests on the working conditions of the public servants.

He said his vision is to improve the negotiation platform and civil servants’ working conditions.  The Minister promised to negotiate with Treasury for periodic review of salaries.

Public Service Commission deputy chair Ambassador Mary Margaret Muchada appealed to workers’ representatives to urge their members to be patient.

“Already this year Government has committed itself to adjusting the salaries in a bid to cushion the workers.

“We were therefore somewhat perturbed when in the past fortnight some were not rendering services despite being at the work place and we urge representatives to talk to your members to understand,” she said. Herald

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