via Bickering as Govt pay talks resume | The Herald December 25, 2013 by Tendai Mugabe
Civil service unions yesterday presented their position paper to Government as the two sides resumed salary negotiations stalled by bickering among the unions over composition of the Apex Council and immediately sought a minimum salary of US$543 a month before non-monetary things like housing stands and indigenisation benefits.
The Government team of negotiators promised to come back with a response early next month after consulting superiors.
In separate interviews, the union leaders confirmed the meeting although they expressed dissatisfaction with its outcome.
They claimed that Government sent a team of “junior officials” who could not make binding decisions. Said Teachers Union of Zimbabwe chief executive Mr Manuel Nyawo: “We presented our position paper to Government, but we were disappointed that we go to that meeting with high hopes only to discover that Government was not even ready to give us a figure in terms of salary increment.
“What we discovered is that Government is not yet ready to fulfil its obligation in terms of its promise. Again, this idea of sending some middle managers to resolve this issue is not proper because they do not make binding decisions and it is time consuming.”
Mr Nyawo said they expected Government to resolve the issue of salaries before the opening of schools on January 13 next year.
He said Government was accusing unions of stalling progress, but they had since resolved their differences.
“We want to urge Government to treat the issue of civil servants salaries seriously. They say they will stagger the salaries towards the Poverty Datum Line, but they are not coming up with a figure and that is leaving us with a lot of dissatisfaction.”
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Mr Raymond Majongwe said nothing much came out of the meeting.
He called for transparency in the manner in which the negotiations were being conducted.
Mr Majongwe said apart from salaries increments, they discussed other aspects, including the issue of pensions.
“We said there should be transparency in this whole issue. For the first time we were told that there is a thing called Public Service Investment Trust that was registered on 14 July 2013 to look at non monetary benefits of civil servants such as housing schemes,” he said.
“We also said we want to be involved in the alignment of labour laws with the new Constitution.”
Mr Majongwe also claimed that Government sent “junior officials” who could not make authoritative decisions.
Responding to claims that Government was sending “junior officials” to negotiate on its behalf, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Deputy Minister Mr Tongai Muzenda said, “That team has full mandate of the Government and whatever it says is binding. Why should we send them if they cannot make binding decisions?
“If the team feels that it wants to go back and consult, there is nothing wrong with that and it is an acceptable negotiating tactic.”
Cde Muzenda said civil service unions should not expect an answer the day they presented their position paper.
He said the negotiating team was not going to change. Cde Muzenda said Government had the right to choose its negotiators in the same way the unions decided on the composition of their negotiating team.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive Mr Sifiso Ndlovu said they presented their position paper and were optimistic of a positive outcome.
He, however, lamented that Government seemed like it was not in a position to respond comprehensively to their concerns.
“This is the first meeting for 2014 salary negotiations that started in 2013. We hope something positive will come out,” he said.
A representative of the College Lecturers Association of Zimbabwe, Mr David Dzatsunga said, “There was a lot of expectation from that meeting.”
“Now that we have our team of negotiators, we expected Government to come up with concrete proposals.”