Leonard Ncube Victoria Falls Reporter
The Apex Council has accepted the salary increment offered by the Government, while negotiations for a better package continue as a compromise for “the sake of civil servants who are in a desperate situation”.
Negotiators for the two parties on Monday agreed on a salary increment, but disagreed on when it would be effected.
The Apex Council, an umbrella representative body for all 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 on the sidelines of the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) and Health Service Bipartite Negotiating Panel workshop.
Yesterday evening, the Apex Council convened after Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima officially opened the workshop where he called for a compromise between civil servants’ expectations and what Government could afford.
Emerging from the evening meeting, Apex Council president Mrs Cecilia 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 however, declined to shed light on the new pay offer.
However, sources said the Government had offered 140 percent across the board.
Mrs Alexander said there had been progress in their negotiations as the Government had agreed to backdate the salaries to January 1 as opposed to effecting the increase from February 1.
“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.
“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.”
She said civil servants had suffered enough, hence the decision to accept Government’s offer.
“Salary is a survival issue. 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 was pushing Government to have salaries reviewed quarterly.
Prof Mavima said the 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 rested on the working conditions of public servants.
He said his vision was 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.