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Government, Apex Council meet to continue negotiations

by Staff reporter
18 Jul 2019 at 07:52hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT and Apex Council negotiators are set to meet to continue with negotiations that will culminate in an agreement over civil servants' cushioning allowances.

The proposed meeting of negotiators, which is potentially set for today, saw Government yesterday postponing the announcement of a cocktail of measures aimed at cushioning its workers from the vagaries of inflation.

Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, and Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza, were expected to announce a cushioning intervention yesterday.

Senior Government officials told our Harare Bureau last night that the anticipated negotiations which could take place today, resulted in the postponement of the announcement of cushioning interventions to give talks a chance.

"Nothing happened today (yesterday) but tomorrow (today) we expect Government negotiators and the Apex Council negotiators to meet and talk," said a senior Government official on condition of anonymity.  

"It is a meeting to continue discussing cushioning package for civil servants."

Sources said Government did not want to be seen to be negotiating in bad faith by announcing a cushioning allowance then attend talks.

Government is determined to engage civil servants through their representatives and deliberate over their conditions of service despite limited resources.

President Mnangagwa has already met civil servants' representatives to get their concerns and explore avenues of addressing them. A 40 percent cushioning intervention has already been extended to civil servants and is set to continue for the next five months as a "more modest amount" while other interventions are being worked out.

Government is desirous to improve the livelihoods of civil servants, particularly with non-monetary incentives which are not affected by inflation.

Businesses tend to increase prices of goods and services each time civil servants get a pay hike, prompting Government to offer houses so as to reduce the burden of rentals. Further, Government has significantly cushioned civil servants from high transport costs by introducing heavily subsidised public service buses.

Regards the high cost of medical drugs, Government has engaged the Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS), which is used by most civil servants, with a view to offering vital drugs at lower cost.

Apex Council president Mrs Cecilia Alexander has indicated that their members want value for their salaries. Recent price increases have eroded the value of employees' salaries. Prices are slowly declining since the removal of the multiple currency system through Statutory Instrument 142 of 2019.

Minister Nzenza confirmed to our Harare Bureau last night that she was aware of the meeting between Government and Apex Council negotiators.

"Yes I am," she said, adding that "Government fully understands the difficult situation faced by workers given the rising costs of basic commodities.

"My ministry, through the Apex Council is engaged in negotiations. At the same time, the ministry is positive that the newly enacted TNF (Tripartite Negotiating Forum (Act) will enable positive dialogue with both business and workers on socio-economic issues affecting our country."

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