Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent
GOVERNMENT yesterday increased its civil servants salary offer to 15 percent but workers urged their employer to increase the offer so that the lowest paid worker can earn above the Poverty Datum Line.
The country’s Poverty Datum Line is at $545 while the lowest paid civil servants get between $350 and $400.
In a National Joint Negotiating Council meeting with the Apex Council yesterday, Government offered to increase salaries for all its employees by 15 percent starting in July.
Apex council secretary general Mr David Dzatsunga confirmed the salary increase offer, a five percent increase from last week’s offer. “The Government has increased its offer from 10 percent to 15 percent. We have said we will go back and consult. So we will have a final position in a day or two. At least we believe that after meeting our constituencies we should be able to accept the offer or not,” said Mr Dzatsunga.
He said the Apex council had not reached a deadlock with Government and negotiations are still in progress.
His sentiments come following last week’s threats by teachers’ unions that if Government does not increase their salaries by 100 percent they will embark on industrial action.
“We would like to believe that there are teachers in the Apex council. In the first place the 10 percent was never agreed on, now we have 15 percent which we are still deliberating upon. It’s not for me to comment on what the teachers’ unions are going to do and what they are not going to do. That is up to them but we in the Apex council are not part of that (strike),” Mr Dzatsunga said.
“The important thing here is that we are still talking. The Apex council has been very clear that we are still having dialogue with Government. This is our second meeting and we haven’t reached a deadlock.”
Apex council president Mrs Cecilia Alexander said it was the civil servants’ hope that Government would increase their salaries above the Poverty Datum Line.
“The Apex council, while appreciating this gesture, is still urging Government to improve the offer to a level above the Poverty Datum Line. Apex council wishes to advise its members that dialogue is ongoing,” said Mrs Alexander.