Talks are set to resume today between Civil Servants Trade Union (CSTU) and the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) on the possibility of revising their salaries upwards in the 2015/16 National Budget to be effected from July 1.
CSTU secretary general Madalitso Njolomole said in an interview yesterday the GNT, through its secretary Blessings Chilabade, confirmed that a meeting would take place between Thursday and Friday.
“It will be a year since the salaries were last reviewed and we agreed that they would not receive annual increments normally effected in December.”
He said civil servants were grateful for the increments effected last year and insistence on harmonisation of salaries with constitutional bodies, but discussions with the GNT would focus on revising upwards salaries of civil servants in the lower grades, from K, who received a 35 percent increase last year.
However, the salary revisions in the 2014/15 budget exerted pressure on Treasury, pushing the public sector wage bill by K30 billion to K163.3 billion, representing 24 percent of the K770 billion national budget.
The K10 billion addition to the wage bill followed strikes and threats of industrial action from, among others, Judiciary support staff who downed tools for two months demanding a salary review similar to that of mainstream civil servants.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe has described the forthcoming 2015/16 financial plan as an “intellectual budget” with further tightening of the government’s financial belt in the face of direct budget aid withdrawal, Cashgate and a depressed economy.
Put to him that a further salary hike would put more financial pressure on a government facing a myriad of problems and may force Capital Hill into more borrowing, Njolomole said it was government’s responsibility to finance a wage bill of its public sector using whatever means necessary.
Last year, civil servants received the largest average increase in recent years of 45 percent.
During the meeting, the trade union also plans to seek explanations on how the medical scheme for civil servants would be carried out after government called for expressions of interest from companies to manage the scheme.
Other issues on the agenda include civil servants’ loans with commercial banks and adjustment of subsistence allowance which has not been effected for many years.
However, the union is concerned that the full board policy which government has adopted has resulted in reduced outputs from officers who do not attend meetings. n