Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
CIVIL servants yesterday rejected Government’s offer to increase their cost of living adjustment by 97 percent, maintaining their position of having their salaries indexed to the interbank rate beginning from the time the rate between the local unit and the US dollar was 1:1.
In an interview, Apex Council president Mrs Cecilia Alexander said in their meeting with Government representatives in Harare yesterday, they failed to agree on the 97 percent hike offered by their employer.
“Government said the cushioning allowance that we were supposed to receive in December will be paid out on January 15 across the board. However, we could not reach consensus on the issue of cost of living adjustment because the offer they brought did not in any way address the concerns we raised in our position paper,” she said.
“Our position was to say Government should apply interbank rates salaries basing on the October 2018 salary of US$425. In other words, we are not asking for salary increase, but we just want the restoration of value, but Government offered 97 percent on a sliding scale from 80 percent to 97 percent, which the negotiating team rejected,”
The Apex Council, a representative body of civil servants’ unions met on Tuesday and resolved to push Government to index their salaries to the interbank rate beginning from October 2018 when the rate between the local unit and the US dollar was 1:1.
Mrs Alexander said their next meeting as Apex Council is set for Monday during which they will chart the way forward following yesterday’s impasse. “We are going to meet on Monday as a fully constituted Apex Council to map the way forward. The offer by Government against what is happening in the market is not addressing our issues such as the issue of incapacitation. We are saying a lot of people are incapacitated to go to work and this level of incapacitation has reached unprecedented level,” she said.
“We did not sign anything because we had a mandate from our constituency to say don’t go and ask for a salary increment, but go and ask Government to restore the value of what we were earning in October 2018. Everything in the market is being indexed in US dollars whether directly or indirectly yet workers’ salaries remain stagnant.”
Civil servants last got an increment in August last year when the Government offered them a 76 percent COLA which resulted in the least-paid worker taking home $1 023 per month.
According to the latest statistics by the Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency the Poverty Datum Line for an average family of five rose by 15,7 percent last November to $3 700 from the previous month’s $3 160. The PDL represents the cost of a given standard of living that must be attained by an individual to not be deemed poor. Last month, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima said Government was ready to engage its workers and had already scheduled an engagement with civil servants’ representatives
The Apex Council had written a letter to the Public Service Commission (PSC) requesting a National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) meeting on a cushioning allowance for December.
Civil servants were last year granted a cost of living adjustment twice in April and August. — @mashnets.