Govt silent on civil servants demands


The government has remained silent about civil servants’ request for a salary hike to cushion them from rising costs and falling disposable income, Business Times can report.

Three weeks ago, the Apex Council, a body that represents all government workers, tabled a fresh proposal for an upward review of their salaries.

Paul Mavima

Prices of consumer goods have been soaring following the enactment of the Statutory Instrument 127 of 2021 as businesses move to shield themselves from inflation and foreign currency challenges.

But, Gibson Mushangu, the Apex Council deputy secretary-general, told Business Times that the civil servants have not heard from the government yet.

 “We are yet to meet the Public Service Commission representatives and nothing has moved from where we left three weeks ago.

“We (hope) that the government will soon reach out to us to resume talks,” Mushangu said.

Mushangu said the civil servants would still join the International Labour Organisation (ILO) should the government fail to adhere to their salary demands.

In the past few months the government has failed to restore the civil servants salaries demands to match the pre-October 2018 levels.

Civil servants earned about US$520 per month, which is about ZWL$44,200 using the prevailing auction rate of ZWL$85: US$1.

Instead, the government has in the past offered salary increases which the civil servants described as inconsequential.

Trade unionists said the Apex Council should approach ILO as the negotiations have dragged on for a very long time hence there was need for an urgent action.

“Apex Council should report them to ILO rather than negotiate with the government which is reluctant to improve the welfare of workers,” the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union president Peter Mutasa (pictured) told Business Times this week.

Government workers have previously rejected the salary increases offered by the administration saying prices of goods and services continue to skyrocket while their salaries were stagnant.

The monthly basket for low income earners for a family of six has now shot up to ZWL$42 000 worsening the plight of civil servants.

Apex Council said the value of their salaries was being eroded by rising prices of goods and services.

Mushangu said the government has to address the salary issue as a matter of urgency which has to speak and respond to the situation on the ground as the workers cannot afford to buy basic commodities for their families.

Efforts to get a comment from Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister, Paul Mavima were futile. 

His mobile phone number went unanswered. 

President Emmerson Mnangagwa admitted last month that salaries of the civil servants are low and his administration is exploring ways to improve the welfare of government employees.

In a letter dated June 2, 2021 to ZIMTA CEO Sifiso Ndlovu, Mnangagwa said he had directed Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube and Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Paul Mavima to explore modalities on how the condition of service and welfare of government workers can be improved.

ZIMTA had written to President Mnangagwa in a letter dated April 26, 2021 expressing their displeasure on the current remuneration given to teachers.

“I would like to put it on record that the government acknowledges that the level of remuneration currently being given to teachers and other civil servants is inadequate and is not what the government would wish to pay its workers under ideal circumstances. 

“For that reason, the government will continue to explore ways to improve the welfare of the generality of civil servants including teachers,” Mnangagwa said.

“You may, however, note that the government introduced policy measures to correct the inflationary tendencies that were wreaking havoc in the retail and transport sectors. 

“Resultantly, government interventions have seen inflation go down significantly, resulting in the growing high hope that the trend will continue going forward.”

Mnangagwa said the challenges being faced by civil servants were perpetuated by the Covid-19 pandemic that resulted in depressed revenue inflows, mainly due to lockdown measures. 

These lockdowns, though painful, were necessary in order to save lives and contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus, he said.

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