WORKERS at the Department of National Parks and Wildlife yesterday held a countrywide protest, demanding improvement of conditions of service, removal of Protective salary scale (PSS) and categorisation of them being civil servants or security wings.

And Ministry of Tourism Permanent Secretary Evans Muhanga says the workers’ concerns will be addressed.

In an interview, a representative of the workers, Joseph Chansa, said some of the officers were underpaid.

“The reason why general staff protested is that there have been pending issues regarding personnel matters which have been presented before the government but government hasn’t come to their aid. It has been pending for almost 5 years now, this is inheritance problem from ZAWA to national parks, because in 2016 there was a transition that was made of which they transferred all the staff from ZAWA to parastatal organ into a government led institution, because of low wage and other conditions of service of which government captured them in order to meet the demand of workers. In 2006, that exercise did not finish, so there were other issues that were pending. Now those issues have been put before the table of the PS and also the Cabinet but nothing has been coming fourth,” Chansa said.

“So the officers protested so that they can have the public empathy to speed up the process for them to get what they want. So the arrears that have been pending, the personal monetary arrears and the offices are under paid. Some of them are in perpetual credits that they have failed to come out of, so they want the government to hear their side so that those personal monetary arrears are presented to them so that they clear out their credits.”

He said the workers were requesting for government to remove them from the current protective salary scale.

“We had a problem with ZAWA. This is why the previous government abolished the then wildlife park which made an existence of national parks, and of which all the staff from ZAWA were transferred to government as a continuous service, which were captured on government payroll. But certain matters are not heard in terms of wage bills because their salaries are low in ZAWA, so when they were taken over by the government, their salaries were not adjusted. They are requesting the government to remove them from PSS 15 to put them on PSS 12 which is an entry note for all security wings in government just like police wildlife. Currently, the ZAWA are on PSS 15 which is nonexistent in government,” said Chansa.

“There are issues which are as far back as when they were transformed from ZAWA to the department of national parks and wildlife. So their issues of leave days which are at an individual level, we have to verify those leave days and there are systems to follow. So, that is a condition for each and every person so it is not a blanket condition, they went on different days, we don’t pay leave days, people choose to take leave days.”

And commenting on these concerns, Muhanga said some of the issues which were raised had already been dealt with although they had not yet formally communicated to this effect.

“There are also other issues of categorisation of them being civil servants or should they actually be considered as part of the security wings, their condition of service like the police and correctional services so they want that transition, so clarity is their submission. The other thing is related to general conditions of service on over time, in terms of what they want, it is an issue that they have been pushing for years and our assurance is not to receive attention at the highest level but as you know this is a new government and with a new budget and well. These things have to have budgetary allocations to be dealt with. People have to make formal submissions, yes, but it has to be brought to the attention of the new administration and we are aware about some of the issues and so some have been dealt with,” said Muhanga.

“We just have to communicate to them in terms of what has happened with the public service management division (PSMD). So what we have agreed with them is to show them commitment. They are having a meeting with the Secretary to Cabinet at 14:30, so I have requested them to have a five man or woman committee that will submit the names and they will come to my office at 14 and then at 14:30 we will have a meeting with the Secretary to Cabinet. So when we finish that meeting with them, then we will be able to issue a press statement that will go to the media if there is need for that to be done. We shall do that after the meeting with the Secretary to Cabinet at 14:30.”