Thursday, 15 October 2020

STRIKE GOES ON : TEACHERS DISMISS PAY HIKE

CIVIL SERVANTS yesterday reacted angrily to government’s pronouncement that the US$75 monthly COVID-19 allowance would now be enjoined to their salaries and accused the Public Service Commission (PSC) of trying to hoodwink them into believing that they had been awarded a salary increment.

The PSC announced yesterday that payment of the US$75 allowance would now be done monthly and indexed to the existing exchange rate.

This effectively means that the lowest paid civil servant will get $11 350, about US$100, a far cry from the US$520 demanded by the public servants.

“The PSC is pleased to advise government workers that the US$75 COVID-19 allowance for September, 2020 is being paid today. Going forward, the US$75 COVID-19 allowance will be paid on pay days. This effectively means that the least paid worker (B1) is now earning $11 350 monthly, while a teacher at entry grade (D1) earns a total of $12 591,15. The US$75 allowance is indexed to the prevailing RBZ foreign exchange rate,” PSC secretary Jonathan Wutawunashe said in a statement.

He then saluted civil servants for religiously rendering their services despite the low pay, adding that he hoped negotiations for improved their salaries between government and their unions would be concluded soon.

Apex Council spokesperson David Dzatsunga said: “It is their unilateral decision and not negotiation and it reads as if they are just calculating the US$75 in local currency terms and then add it on to what we have been getting before.

“The correct thing is to talk about it, but we realise they are acknowledging that all is not well and they are now firefighting. We expect what we should have negotiated. The circular seems to be saying you guys are saying you are getting this, but in actual fact, you are getting $11 000 and, therefore, we are going to negotiate from that figure which I also find problematic.”

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said nothing had changed and vowed that teachers would continue with their boycott.

“What they have done is to convert our nostro salaries into local currency and then added the 40% that they gave us. If you add US$75 and about $4 000, you get to $11 000 to $12 000, so there is nothing that they have done,” PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou said.

“This is not what we asked for and you don’t give a catapult to a child who asks for fish. We never asked for such an increase or whatever, what we want is the restoration of salaries that we were getting in October 2018.”

He described the move as an “unfair labour practice which is callous and a monument for Zimbabwean injustice.”

In a statement, the organisation said: “If it is true that the figure includes nostro, nothing has changed. Our members will not go to work on the back of deception. Mark our words.

“The insult against our members will have negative repercussions that will be felt for a long time. There are no negotiations going on. There has been no change in the salary figure.

The announcement is intended primarily to hoodwink desperate parents and students.”

 

The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe said the move by the government was meant to deceive the workers.

“There is nothing new here. Teachers have been earning the same inadequate income which falls short of both our expectations and the modest monthly budget for a low income earner. The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe pegged the monthly breadbasket at over $20 000. The COVID-19 allowances expire in December, 2020,” the rural teachers said.

“This is a joke. The government intends to deceive the world into believing that they adjusted our salaries. To the contrary, they simply added current teacher incomes to the COVID-19 allowance and announced the total figure. Teachers have been earning the same inadequate income since July.”

Meanwhile, in Parliament, former Finance minister Tendai Biti (Harare East MP MDC Alliance) said government should pay teachers the US$520 salaries they used to get before the re-introduction of the Zimbabwe dollar.

Government has steadfastly maintained the use of the Zimdollar at a time rentals, goods and services are charged in hard currency. Newsday

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