Wednesday, 4 November 2020

CIVIL SERVANTS REJECT 20% PAY HIKE, DEMAND FOREX SALARIES

CIVIL servants yesterday rejected government’s additional 20% salary offer that would have seen the highest paid worker getting $16 430 per month.

The disgruntled civil servants have been demanding a salary hike to match the rate of inflation and cushion them against the harsh economic environment, with teachers demanding at least US$520, but government has shot down demands for United States dollar-based salaries.

Government last month offered its restive workers a 40% hike and converted the US$75 COVID-19 allowance introduced in June this year to be part of their monthly salary, but civil servants insist that the increase is not enough given the country’s hyperinflationary environment.

Apex Council, the umbrella body for all public service unions, confirmed that yesterday’s conditions of service meeting with government had ended in a stalemate. The Apex Council said it would now consult its members on the way forward.

Apex Council spokesperson David Dzatsunga, however, refused to give details of the meeting, referring NewsDay to a statement issued after the deliberations.

Part of the statement read: “The much-awaited National Joint Negotiating Council meeting where the government was expected to feedback and move significantly on the cost of living adjustment for civil servants has been finally held on November 3, 2020.

“In the previous meeting, the government had made an offer of 40% of the total package and today increased it by a further 20% of the current earnings of an individual. This new offer is to be with effect from November 1, 2020.”

However, the workers, who are earning way below the poverty datum line, rejected the offer saying it did not address their incapacitation.

“The workers side flatly rejected the offer for falling short of addressing the incapacitation of civil servants. However, the workers’ side asked for an adjournment to tomorrow for a feedback to its full council and its constituency on the way forward (concerning) the said offer and expects to meet the government this week for workers’ position,” the statement further read.

The new offer would see B1 workers getting $13 590, C5 earning $14 105, D1 getting $15 077, while E1, would be the highest paid workers, who are earning $16 430.

Workers in grade D, where most education personnel belong to, have been awarded a special COVID-19 allowance of 10% of basic salary that translates to $517.

Government has been trying to address the plight of its workers, but all its offers so far have not satisfied the restive civil servants. Teachers said they remained incapacitated.

Recently, government extended an equivalent of US$500 as funeral assistance for its underpaid civil servants who would have passed on. Teachers downed tools in September ahead of the reopening of schools for examination classes.

Schools reopened for another batch of students on Monday last week, amid reports that most schools were being manned by heads and senior masters as the majority of teachers stayed away citing incapacitation.

The prolonged teachers strike, which saw the teacher unions issuing joint statements, is, however, under threat after the country’s largest teachers’ union, Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta), “Nicodemously” met President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday last week, where they agreed on a US$320 minimum wage down from US$520 albeit without the knowledge of other unions.

However, Zimta has hit back at its counterparts, describing the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) as failures in representing teachers’ grievances during negotiations.

The teachers’ unions had made a joint request to meet Mnangagwa over teachers’ remuneration, but Zimta reportedly secretly met Mnangagwa.

In a statement, Zimta reaffirmed its commitment to serve the interests of the teachers, describing Artuz and the PTUZ as “briefcase teachers’ unions-cum-political parties whose main agenda was to drag Zimta’s name into the mud”.

Teachers unions remain divided on the way forward amid accusations and counter-accusations of selling out. Newsday

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