via Govt fails to pay workers – DailyNews Live by Lloyd Mbiba 25 MARCH 2014
Government has failed to pay its workers on time, postponing the pay date by three days — a sign of a tightening financial crisis.
Angry civil servants have railed against the government for changing pay dates, saying their employer is engaging in unfair labour practice, putting more pressure on President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF to deliver on election promises made last year of higher wages.
The Finance ministry issued a statement last week, stating that it had moved the pay date from March 25 to March 27.
“Civil Service Commission advises that the ministry of Finance (Treasury) has moved the March 2014 pay date for the rest of the civil service from March 25 to March 27 2014,” Civil Service Commission secretary Pretty Sunguro said in the statement.
Only uniformed forces and teachers received their salaries, according to the unions, while the rest of the civil servants are to wait for March 27. Govt fails to pay workers
Sunguro could not immediately explain yesterday why the dates were moved, and had not responded to written questions sent to her by the time of going to press.
Patrick Chinamasa, the Finance minister, was unreachable for comment as his mobile phone went unanswered, while Labour minister Nicholas Goche was said to be out of the country.
Unions were promised a wage increase for Zimbabwe’s 235 000 State employees, the bulk of whom are teachers, but the money is yet to materialise.
Chinamasa was challenged recently in Parliament on when government would honour its pledge, but he was non-committal.
“We are not yet in April,” Chinamasa said.
But speaking at his belated birthday party organised for him by the Public Service Commission, Mugabe said the pledge will be honoured.
“We were promised that we would get the money in April,” Mugabe told government officials at a luncheon to celebrate his birthday.
“I was talking to (Public Service Commission chairman) Mariyawanda Nzuwah who is close to Chinamasa and he assured me that we would be paid. Even the President is also a worker — 1st of April don’t fool us.”
Mugabe blamed sanctions for the crisis.
“We are currently going through a difficult patch as a result of the sanctions that were imposed on us,” he said.
“This has resulted in a delay in the fulfilment of the promises of a salary increment that we made last year.
“It is, however, just a technical delay in the mobilisation of the monies, but the promise will be honoured. It is our wish, as government, to have all our workers adequately compensated for their hard work.”
Mugabe, Africa’s oldest leader at 90 and in power since the former Rhodesia’s independence from Britain in 1980, was re-elected in a July vote sledged by rivals as stolen but largely endorsed by African observers as free and credible.
Mugabe has promised to revive the free-falling economy, which is stuttering to right itself after a decade-long crisis up to 2009.
Unions yesterday laid into the government saying the change in pay dates portends a deeper crisis
Cecilia Alexander, chairperson of the umbrella body for civil servants, the Apex Council, alleged the government was engaging in unfair labour practice.
“We don’t know why the government did that,” Alexander said.
“Instead of telling us first as the unions, they went to inform the nation about the pay date change. But we must say this is an unfair
labour practice. Civil servants would have already made their plans and to change without notifying them is unfair. Mind you, the salaries are not sufficient enough and then for government to move the pay date is wrong.”
Sifiso Ndlovu, Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive, said the unions now fear that the government will backtrack on its promises to award a salary increment next month.
“This forewarns of bad things that lie ahead for us,” he said. “The government move has lessened our hope and trust that we will get a salary increment next month. It is apparent that the government will not increase civil servants’ salaries.
“This is a crisis and we expect the government to come out clean and tell us what is happening. Last month, we wrote to the Civil Service Commission seeking a meeting but up to now they have not responded. We want government to confirm or allay our fears because we now fear for the worst.”
Raymond Majongwe, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general, said the change of dates signals a bleak future for civil servants.
Majongwe said: “This is a tell-tale sign of a very bleak future for us civil servants. Pay dates cannot be changed wily-nilly and the announcement is made in a newspaper. Government should respect that civil servants have to honour some dues whether to landlords or to service providers. We call upon the government to put its house in order. Government should prioritise our welfare.
“April is coming and we will not accept anything other than pay increase. We do not want to hear that the government is broke or whatever. The government should just fulfil its pledges.”