Govt meets civil servants today

Africa Moyo Deputy News Editor
Government has called civil servants’ representatives, the Civil Service Apex Council, to a National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) meeting today, the eve of a planned demonstration, to address their concerns. Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza said she had received formal notification in a letter dated October 31, on plans for a protest march, but wants dialogue to continue in earnest.

Whether the demonstration will go ahead will depend on the result of today’s meeting, Apex Council chairperson Mrs Cecilia Alexander said yesterday.

“The item on the agenda is to receive feedback from Government in response to our position paper that we presented on October 31 where we notified Government that most civil servants are now failing to even afford to come to work and also even fend for their families,” she said.

“You may be aware that we organised a demonstration which is taking place on Wednesday (tomorrow), where civil servants are going to march and handover petitions to the Ministry of Public Service and Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.

“Whether the demonstration is going to continue or not on Wednesday, that will depend on the outcome of today’s meeting.”

Civil servants have already had two effective pay rises this year and the minimum pay in State service is now $1 023 a month, while they have been promised bonuses and are likely to get another pay rise.

Minister Nzenza acknowledged receipt of the letter from the Civil Service Apex Council that gives Government notice for the protest march.

The Government had responded by informing the Apex Council that “it is seized with internal consultations” regarding the position submitted by Apex in the last National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) meeting .

“Apex Council has been notified that an NJNC meeting will be convened soon after the consultations to give the NJNC feedback and possibly engagement to find a mutually suitable position on the matter,” said Minister Nzenza.

“Meanwhile, Apex Council has been advised to allow dialogue to continue in earnest without threat of protest action. Government reiterates it’s commitment to finding mutually agreed solutions to challenges facing the workers.”

Minister Nzenza said Government hoped that the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) work currently going on in clusters will be expedited to lead to a social contract to bring stability on prices and incomes.

The Apex Council says the Civil Service Apex Council met on October 30 and “unanimously” resolved to demonstrate tomorrow.

It says the protest has been instigated by Government’s lack of response to the workers’ position paper tabled at the NJNC, despite the “mutually agreed concurrence to treat the matter as urgent”.

Civil servants want to protest over recent remarks by Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube that Government did not have the resources to benchmark salaries against the interbank foreign currency exchange rate.

The Apex Council said the move by Prof Ncube effectively pre-empts and nullifies the NJNC.

Prof Ncube has not ruled out further increases, only the effective setting of salaries in US dollars translated at the interbank rate into the actual Zimbabwe dollar payments.

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