Civil servants have demanded that government should table the much-awaited Public Service Remuneration Bill which among others would spearhead salary harmonisation in the civil service.
The demand follows recurring salary disparities between main civil service and other public organs for staff in the same grade.
But government has said the piece of legislation which is still in its draft form and has been on its shelves for close to five years is still undergoing scrutiny and may not be ready by the 2017/18 budget sitting of Parliament.
“We are going to push for the bill until it is taken to Parliament by all means. Five years ago, civil servants demonstrated and presented a petition to Parliament for the bill to be tabled but up to now nothing has happened. We need this bill now,” Civil Servants Trade Union (CSTU) Secretary General Madalitso Njolomole said in an interview.
He expressed concern that due to delays on the bill, some public organs including the judiciary continue to make demands on their welfare to government, a development he fears might further widen the gap among civil servants.
“We were told by government that civil servants’ salaries and house allowances have been lumped together but to our surprise, judicial staff is on their own looking for house allowances based on the clauses in their agreement with government. Such things need to be rectified so that civil servants are treated equally,” Njolomole said He was referring to a matter in which judiciary support staff are seeking salary harmonisation with judiciary officers and have since given a seven-day ultimatum to the Judicial Service Commission to start giving them housing allowances.
If enacted into law, the bill will among others see the establishment of Public Service Remuneration board which will be at the centre of civil servants pay harmonisation.
Since last week Wednesday, The Daily Times efforts to talk to Justice Minister Samuel Tembenu or Solicitor General Janet Banda have failed to materialise but Department of Human Resource Management and Development (DHRND) Principal Secretary Blessing Chilabade admitted the slow progress on the legislation and ruled out possibility that it will be taken to Parliament during the budget session.
“As a department, we are involved in reviews but we are also waiting for this law and the establishment of this board which will be an independent entity on public service remuneration.
“The bill is being given priority. The intention is that the bill should be taken to Parliament this year. Wide consultations were already conducted but presently, we are just trying to tie loose ends so that it addresses the issues that we want,” Chilabade said.
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