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Govt, Civil Servants Resume Talks

By Felex Share

Government and civil servants are today scheduled to meet for further discussions under the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) after consulting their constituencies over salary increments. The two sides failed to find each other last week when the workers rejected a 10 percent salary review from the Government. Today’s meeting will see the Government formally presenting a cushioning allowance which President Mnangagwa offered the workers on Tuesday to lessen the impact of a recent flurry of price increases.

The Head of State and Government directed Treasury to pay civil servants a cushioning allowance of between 22,7 percent for the lowest paid worker and 5 percent for the highest paid employee.

The award, which does not affect ongoing cost of living adjustment negotiations, covers the period January to March. Apex Council chair Mrs Cecelia Alexander yesterday confirmed today’s meeting.

“We have been invited to a meeting tomorrow (today) morning by Government and this is a continuation of our negotiations under the NJNC,” she said.

“Our expectation is Government will address incapacitation and we also expect them to tell us of the measures which they have put in place to curb price increases. Their offer will determine how we will proceed.” Mrs Alexander said Apex was ready for the talks.

“By inviting us, our expectation is that they are through with consulting their principals. We have also done our consultations and we now want to chart the way forward. We have not yet been told about it (cushioning allowance) formally. We just read about it in the paper and will comment on it after the meeting,” she said.

The workers are demanding a $1 733 salary for the least-paid employee, up from $414 inclusive of allowances.

This represents an increase of 419 percent. Government has said fiscal space is constrained to fund such an increase. Analysts have also warned that any huge salary review can only trigger price increases by producers, leading to a vicious cycle.

Government is therefore proposing non-monetary benefits and these include the provision of land for housing, residential mortgage schemes, vehicle loans and medical care. The parties also have to agree on a roadmap that will see the establishment of a public service pension scheme based on a funded and defined benefit modality that is guaranteed by Government.

This is meant to protect contributors and generate input to align the current legislation that guides labour relations in the public sector to the Constitution.

Government also wants to use the negotiations to solicit input on the amendment of the Public Service Act, the establishment of the Public Service Collective Bargaining Council and the creation of Tripartite Negotiating Forum to facilitate dialogue among the social partners.

Source : The Herald

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