By Debra Matabvu
Government and civil servants’ representatives are this week scheduled to resume their crunch meetings over payment of 2016 bonuses with the employees saying they will make a fresh demand for the employer to peg specific dates for the release of the 13th cheque.
The meetings, which are being held under the auspices of the National Joint Negotiating Council that brings together Government and the civil servants’ umbrella body – the Apex Council – had been shelved during the past few weeks owing to the festive season.
The two parties last met in December when Government proposed to substitute bonuses with residential stands, an offer that was turned down by the civil servants who insisted on receiving money.
Last week, Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa said he was not able to comment as he was on official leave and would return to work next week while his Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare counterpart Minister Prisca Mupfumira was not available for an interview.
Apex Council President Mrs Cecilia Alexander however said that the workers are going to resume meetings with Government this week to pick up from where they left last year.
She said the 2016 bonuses will be the main agenda of the talks while other issues on the table include the 2017 salary pay dates and working conditions.
“Yes we were supposed to meet with our employer but we have decided to give them more time to work on the issue since we realised that some of them are still to resume their respective duties after the festive holidays,” she said.
“However starting next week (this week), we are going to do a serious follow up on the matter as we would want Government to give us concrete dates on when we will start receiving our bonuses for 2016.”
Mrs Alexander said although the workers appreciate Government’s offer on residential stands, the Apex Council is of the opinion that the proposal came in late and should only be considered for 2017 bonuses going forward.
“Government had offered to give us the bonuses in the form of stands but we felt the proposal came a bit late. We might consider the offer this year but as for the 2016 bonuses, we are expecting cash,” she said.
“We would want an answer on the matter as soon as possible.”
Human Resources expert Mr Memory Nguwi urged the civil servants to reconsider the residential stands offer in light of cash flow challenges being faced by Government.
“The civil servants should consider the key issue and look at the financial cash flows being experienced by the Government,” he said.
“Sometimes it is better to compromise and take what is there because the opportunity might pass and never present itself again.”
Government has been struggling to pay civil servants’ bonuses over the years due to cash flow challenges.
Last year, authorities staggered their bonuses with the last batch of civil servants receiving their 2015 bonuses well into the second half of last year.
President Mugabe has been on record saying despite the low revenue inflows, Government workers deserve to get the 13th cheque as per tradition.
In November last year, Government introduced a residential scheme for civil servants as part of the employer’s non-monetary incentives to workers. Over 500 000 civil servants have registered for the scheme with modalities of the project already underway. Sunday Mail