331122E – PRIME MINISTER DEFENDS UNIFIED WAGE TABLE
Maputo, 10 Nov (AIM) – Mozambican Prime Minister Adriano Maleiane on Wednesday defended the public sector Unified Wage Table (TSU) introduced by the government, against a barrage of attacks from assorted professional groups, including doctors and judges, who say the new table damages their interests.
Speaking at the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, Maleiane said the TSU was a dramatic simplification of the wage system in the public administration, reducing the number of wage levels from 89 to 21, and the number of salary supplements from 35 to 18.
The TSU, he claimed, eliminates wage disparities, brings greater wage balance and justice among the staff affected in the various sectors of the administration, and guarantees the sustainability of the public sector wage bill.
Maleiane told the Assembly that the TSU ensures the stability and professionalization of human resource in the public administration and allows the mobility of those resources.
He insisted that nobody is losing money because of the TSU. No public servant is receiving a lower wage under the TSU than before its implementation, and none of the special statutes for professional groups have been revoked. The various supplements continue to exist, but just have different names.
Maleiane said that under the TSU the basic criteria for employment and promotion in the public service are position in the career structure and length of time spent working for the state. He added that the first phase of implementation of the TSU has already covered 354,360 public servants, which is 99.8 per cent of the total.
The government, Maleiane added, had set up multi-sector commissions, locally and centrally, to guarantee uniform implementation of the TSU, receive complaints and propose solutions.
“We urge all public servants to prioritise the use of the legally established channels and mechanisms to attend to concerns arising from implementation of the law on the TSU”, he said. “Only thus will we comply with the final goal of the TSU which is to attract, retain and motivate the public servants”.
Maleiane reiterated the government’s willingness to maintain a dialogue with public servants and the socio-professional organisations involved, in order to ensure improved regulation and implementation of the TSU.
The Minister of Economy and Finance, Max Tonela, told the Assembly that some of the concerns presented by professional groups “are legitimate”.
Some of these, he said, arose from procedural failings that could easily be corrected, and some resulted from interpretations that require “further explanations or improvement of this new model”. Still others “result from managing the expectations generated around the TSU since its conception”.
Tonela reminded the deputies that the whole point of the wage reform was to value and retain the best cadres in the state apparatus, to correct wage imbalances among staff with similar functional requirements and to eliminate the proliferation of special statutes that had been approved in a discriminatory fashion.
Like Maleiane, he insisted that no worker in the public administration will suffer a wage cut because of the TSU.
The conciliatory speeches from Maleiane and Tonela may have come too late. Various groups feel that they were not properly consulted about the new wage scales, and that their interests are being damaged.
Foremost among these are the country’s doctors, who are threatening to go on strike as from 5 December, if negotiations with the government do not satisfy their demands.
Even worse, Mozambican judges have called for the whole TSU package to be thrown out. On Friday, the Mozambican Association of Judges (AMJ) issued a statement describing the TSU as “unconstitutional and illegal”.
The AMJ claims that the TSU “lowers the professional status of judges”, and violates the Mozambican constitution and various international agreements Mozambique has signed. Such claims may seem extreme, but if they are accepted by the Constitutional Council, the country’s highest body in matters of constitutional law, the whole public sector wage reform could be sent back to square one.
Not mentioned by Maleiane and Tonela are the demands by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for sharp reductions in the public sector wage bill. The negotiations with the IMF earlier in the year included a 17 per cent cut in the government’s total wages bill by 2026. It is hard to see how this can be reconciled with a commitment not to reduce the wages of any individual public servants.
The existing wage structure has evolved over decades, and is generally agreed to be inefficient and unwieldy. Any attempt at reform, particularly in the current context of rising inflation, was bound to lead to perceptions that some groups are winning and others are losing.
Pf / (771)