BULAWAYO – Under pressure from unions, the government on Monday scrapped its controversial plan to pay performance-based bonuses to civil servants, a departure from the past practice of paying a uniform 13th cheque to public sector workers.
The decision came during a National Joint Negotiating Council meeting bringing together government and public sector union representatives.
Cecilia Alexander, the president of the Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (ZCPSTU), told reporters: “The workers side representatives met the government to deliberate on quite a number of issues, chief among them the payment modalities of the 2022 annual bonus. The meeting resolved that all civil servants from deputy director grade and below will receive their bonuses unconditionally.”
Alexander said the government, citing cash-flow challenges, agreed to pay the bonus over two months, with half of the bonus payment set to be effected alongside November salaries, and the other in December.
The government, said Alexander, also committed to pay outstanding school fees for teachers’ children in December. In a bid to break up strikes earlier this year, the government said it would pay fees for up to two children of school teachers – but unions say no payments have been made to date.
The government also said it would place civil servants in their proper grades starting in January.
The Public Service Commission last month announced it was going to change the approach it had implemented for decades, and reward civil servants bonuses based on their performances. Unions feared the move was aimed at punishing public sector workers who have engaged in strikes while warning that it was open to abuse by vindictive divisional heads.
Before Monday’s meeting, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ), declared: “We insist that the annual bonus is for all workers, it’s a 13th cheque. If the government wants to pay a performance bonus, it should be in addition to the annual bonus.”