Civil servants warn of strike

Civil servants  have warned of a countrywide strike should government fail to implement the 100 percent salary increase next month as was agreed in the new collective agreement which was effective September 1st 2013.

This follows the confusion which has arisen in the implementation of the 100 percent salary increase awarded to civil servants where Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba has differed with Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda over payment date of the new salaries.

The Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) general secretary Roy Mwaba and the Civil Servants and Allied Workers Union of Zambia (CSAWU) general secretary Joy Beene have said that it was shocking that government had decided to announce the deferment of the payment of the new salaries through the media.

The two union leaders have warned that government was forcing civil servants to resort to industrial unrest by postponing the payment of the new salaries when the collective agreement dictated that the salaries would be effective in September 2013.

Mr Chikwanda on Sunday told a media briefing that the 100 percent salary increments for the civil servants would only be effected in October 2013 but Mr Yamba has withdrawn the Minister’s statement stating that the new wage bill would be implemented in September.

Government has continued to contradict itself on the payment of the 100 percent civil servants new salaries whose collective agreement was to be effected in September but civil service union leaders have told government that they would not accept the postponement of the implementation of their new wages.

The Minister of Finance also admitted that the Patriotic Front (PF) government budget had burst but was quick to state that it was normal for any country to suffer from a budget overrun.

Mr Chikwanda said the budget overrun the PF government had suffered was neither here nor there and that it was within manageable levels adding that the gaps in the budget were genuine economic gaps.

He said troubles in big economies of Europe reverberated in other parts of the world including Zambia stating that deficits were a normal part of life.

He said government had already informed labour leaders to communicate to their members about the deferment of their salaries saying government would only be able to raise and implement the new wage bill in October 2013.

But Mr Yamba in what appeared to have been an attempt at damage control said Mr Chikwanda did not say government had postponed the implementation of the new salaries but that the new wage bill would be effected in September.

Last week, acting Information and Broadcasting Minister Fackson Shamenda who is Labour Minister chastised Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) president Edith Nawakwi for cautioning that Zambia risked being in KR500 million deficit.

But yesterday, Secretary to the treasury Fredson Yamba in a statement attempted to control the damage and refuted Mr Chikwanda’s statement saying civil servants would be paid their new salaries in September

Mr Yamba said the report attributed to Mr Chikwanda on the delayed implementation of civil servants new salaries were false and another scheme aimed at stressing workers thereby affecting their productivity and capacity.

“Reports attributed to the Ministry of Finance that the effective date for implementation of new salaries for public service workers has been moved are false and just another scheme aimed at stressing workers and thereby affecting their productivity and capacity to deliver the promises of the Government to the people of Zambia,” Mr Yamba said.

Yet in another statement from Ministry of Finance public relations officer Chileshe Kandeta, the treasury had incurred extra budget expenditures as a result of the public service salary increments which were awarded at levels above the provision made in 2013 budget and the by-elections.

Mr Kandeta also disclosed that the many by-elections the country was having were being financed under the contingency budget line which he said catered for all unforeseen and unavoidable expenditures.