Government has once again demonstrated that it is sensitive to the plight of its workers by paying a top up to their salaries while negotiations for an agreed salary adjustment are underway.
Civil servants have rejected a 40 percent salary increase hence the collective bargaining negotiations are continuing. Government in the interim has resolved to cushion the civil servants with a top up and the workers should start accessing the top up within the week ending October 2 but Government did not disclose what percentage it is paying as a top up.
Government has since June been paying a flat non-taxable Covid-19 allowance of US$75 a month to all civil servants and $30 to its pensioners.
The allowance which was supposed to end last month has since been extended to the end of the year. In a statement at the weekend, Public Service Commission (PSC) Secretary Ambassador Jonathan
Wutawunashe said the payment of the top up did not have any bearing on the negotiations between the Government and civil servants’ representatives under the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC).
Ambassador Wutawunashe said the top up payment was meant to cushion workers, particularly teachers who returned to work for the first time today since schools closed in March as part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19. “This payment does not prejudice the negotiations but seeks to cushion workers in the interim pending conclusion of the negotiations, particularly in view of the urgent need to support teachers who are going back to schools to prepare children for examinations,” said Ambassador Wutawunashe.
We want to applaud the civil servants for choosing to engage their employer as opposed to being confrontational. It should be appreciated that for any negotiations to succeed, the parties involved must be prepared to move from their initial positions.
Government and the civil servants must, at the end of the day, find each other despite the challenging prevailing economic environment. Government has been sacrificing to review its workers’ salaries despite the limited resources at its disposal, a fact which we have no reason to doubt, workers appreciate.
Civil servants’ salaries have since January this year been increased by nearly 200 percent. We have said it before that employers can only pay salaries they can afford and Government is no exception. It is therefore important for parties involved in the collective bargaining negotiations to seriously consider the issue of affordability.
The Zimbabwean economy like the rest of the world was adversely affected by the impact of Covid-19 and as such many sectors of the economy are still in the woods. Government revenue comes mainly from taxes so if companies are not doing well, it means reduced revenue inflows into Government coffers.
We want to once again implore civil servants to make reasonable demands for salary adjustments which Government can afford.