Full bonuses for civil servants. . . further review for health workers

Paidamoyo Chipunza in Harare  and Andile Tshuma in Bulawayo

Government has reviewed health sector-specific allowances by a further 40 percent with effect from October 1, 2019, which will see junior doctors pocketing $2 400 for on-call allowances, up from $1 200 initially offered.

Nurses will get $720 for either night duty, standby or call allowances, up from the previous $360 while nurse managers will get $1 000, up from $500.

Further, the Government has resolved to pay civil servants full bonuses for 2019, pegged on gross income, a departure from last year when the 13th cheque was based on pensionable salaries only.

The development will increase civil servants’ disposable incomes ahead of the festive season.

The allowances offered to health workers by Government are in addition to other health sector-specific allowances that include locum rates, initial uniform grant, initial uniform allowance, out-of-residence allowance and psychiatric allowances, which were reviewed last Friday by at least 100 percent each.

Health Services Board (HSB) chairperson Dr Paulinus Sikosana yesterday said the latest review brings adjustments on health-specific allowances to 100 percent.

“Parties to the Health Services Bipartite Negotiating Panel (HSBNP) met on 18 October 2019 to continue the unfinished negotiations on the review of the Health Sector Specific Allowances following the signing of collective bargaining agreement (CBA) Number 3 of 2019 on 4 October 2019.

“CBA 3 of 2019, provided for a 60 percent adjustment on the HSCA with effect from 01 October 2019. On 18 October 2019, parties to the HSBNP agreed that the said CBA 3 of 2019 be amended to provide for a review of the health sector specific allowances by a further 40 percent from 60 percent.

“This review is with effect from 1 October 2019,” said Dr Sikosana.

However, defiant striking junior doctors snubbed the negotiating table, arguing they were no longer part of the Health Apex Council.

In an interview following the announcement of the latest agreement, acting Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association leader Dr Tawanda Zvakada said; “We did not participate in the negotiations and we still hope the employer will find ways of engaging us meaningfully with a credible inter-mediator since we are still open for dialogue.

“However, not through the Health Apex Council.”

Dr Zvakada said doctors will continue withdrawing their labour until their grievances are addressed.

Last month, the Government awarded civil servants including health workers, a cost of living adjustment of between 55 percent and 76 percent, which was awarded on a sliding scale.

In terms of this year’s bonus payments, Apex Council president Mrs Cecilia Alexander said; “We applaud Government for reverting to the old system.

“During our last meeting which was held on the 14th of October, Government made a commitment to pay civil servants full bonuses calculated on their total income inclusive of allowances such as housing and transport allowances.

“This is a great step that shows that engagement has been fruitful.”

Government has been negotiating with civil servants through their umbrella body, the Joint Negotiation Council, for a review of conditions of service after their salaries were eroded by inflation.

The Apex Council says the 76 percent cost of living adjustment (Cola) negotiated last month has been wiped off by inflation.

The 100 percent bonus will therefore come in handy.

Mrs Alexander added that while they applaud Government for reverting to the old system of paying bonus, they want salaries to be increased in line with prices of goods and services.

“We therefore urge civil servants to keep their ears to the ground as we are awaiting favourable outcomes from engagements with Government.

“Government has not yet come back to us since our last engagement,” Mrs Alexander said.

Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) chief executive officer Mr Sifiso Ndlovu yesterday said they needed a pay rise on the basis of the obtaining situation in the country.

“Educators are now incapacitated and are unable to effectively deliver lessons to learners. So whatever pay rise comes must be in the context of the situation that we are in,” said Mr Ndlovu.

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Deputy Minister Cde Lovemore Matuke said the Government was focusing on addressing rampant price increases.

“The President cannot put price control measures as this will make commodities disappear from the shelves in shops.

“However, we surely can bring cheaper stuff so that this madness can be controlled,” he said.