Govt, civil servants strike bonus deal

HARARE - Government has buckled under pressure from restive civil servants after it accepted to add an extra $180 million on its 2017 budget in order to pay the workers’ long overdue 2016 bonuses.

The two parties struck a deal following a lengthy deadlock that compelled the public workers to threaten downing tools, prompting yesterday’s hasty meeting.

“...after deliberations, we have finally come up with an agreed position where we are going to be paying our civil servants the bonuses staggered as follows, end of April, end of May, June and August and that we have agreed on,” Public Service minister Prisca Mupfumira told journalists yesterday after the meeting.

According to Mupfumira, the members of the defence forces and those in the health sector will receive their bonuses end of April, while the police and prisons officials will be given theirs in May.

Teachers will be paid their bonuses in June and the rest of the civil service will get theirs in August.

Asked how they were going to fund the disbursements considering the 2017 budget was meagre, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said it was their “baby to nurse”.

“That is our problem, don’t worry. We will certainly, mobilise the resources,” he said, further stating that the current situation leaves them with a budget deficit of $180 million.

The meeting was also attended by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya, Health minister David Parirenyatwa, among other government officials.

Apex Council chairperson Cecilia Alexander confirmed they had agreed on the position taken by government.

Her organisation — representing over 300 000 workers – held an emergency meeting in the capital last Friday, in which it resolved to stage a strike yesterday.

Yesterday’s meeting came as the hard-pressed government has been under mounting pressure to agree to a raft of demands by striking public health officials, including doctors and nurses, whose industrial action crippled services at State hospitals over the past three weeks.

The health professionals ended their strike on Friday after reaching a deal with the government, including the withdrawal of the State’s earlier threats to sack all striking workers.

The government had previously offered to pay the civil servants their bonuses using residential stands.

However, teachers unions, including the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz), spurned the offer, arguing that according to the Constitution, every person has a right to have access to adequate shelter. They said land cannot be used as a bonus payment.

“Residential stands must remain as part of non-monetary incentives given that the employer has consistently failed to pay salaries above the poverty datum line which is currently at $574,” the organisation said.

Despite the government’s depleted coffers, Mugabe said last year that government workers deserved to get their 13th cheque because it was their contractual obligation.

In 2015, Chinamasa said the current civil service wage bill chews more than 80 percent of government’s revenues and stands at a staggering over $260 million.

During the same year, he almost lost his job after announcing that government was going to forego bonus disbursements until 2017 barely a week after the pronouncement, Mugabe reversed it, claiming he was not consulted on the issue.

Comments (1)

So government has bought itself a little more time and breathing space but will they really find the money or just print more bonds?

citizen - 8 March 2017

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