PUBLIC servants are bracing themselves for tough negotiations with government with a core demand to benchmark their salaries on the poverty datum level which stands at $96 000 a month for the lowest paid.
Teachers and civil servants’ r
epresentatives say they have put forward proposals for salary increments, and transport and housing allowances to government ahead of the National Joint Negotiation Council meeting on Monday.
Association of Principal and Executive Officers secretary-general, Wilson Nasho, said his team was fighting for civil servants to be allowed to form or join trade unions which are governed by the Labour Act for them to derive maximum benefits.
“While we are seeking improvement of civil servants’ working conditions and that they be given freedom to join trade unions, we have not lost sight of the fact that they are some of the lowest paid,” Nasho said.
“Salaries are so woefully inadequate that it has forced a lot of the workers into corrupt deals despite the existence of the Anti-Corruption Commission,” he said.
President of the Civil Service Employees Association, Masimba Kadzimu, said government had to do something about the salaries of his members. Its members occupy the lowest rung on the salary scale.
“We have some of our members who are failing to return home after work and have to put up in offices. Some have turned to prostitution to make ends meet while others live a life of borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.”
Kadzimu said government could be taking advantage of the high unemployment where there is a pool of jobless people willing to fill the vacuum left if its workers went on strike to demand higher pay.
“Government takes its time to reach decisions. They do not treat us as partners in the negotiations and need to change such attitudes,” he said.
“If they knew we represent people, they would respond immediately,” he said adding that standards of service provision in government offices would greatly improve when people are adequately remunerated.
Civil servants got a blanket salary hike in March this year but the benefits have been whittled down by galloping inflation.