Monday, 28 June 2021

LABOUR UNIONS SLAM CRUEL GOVT

Labour unions representing teachers have described the refusal by government to increase salaries for civil servants as “cruel and insensitive to their plight”.

Public Service minister Paul Mavima told NewsDay on the sidelines of the on-going eighth edition of the Continental Africa Public Service Day Commemorations in Victoria Falls that salary increments would cripple productive sectors of the economy.

The teachers want salaries equivalent to US$520 up to US$550 which they used to earn pre-October 2018. They said if government could not pay them in foreign currency, it should pay them the equivalent amounts at the bank rate.

Their calls for salary reviews come at a time when the monthly breadbasket of a family of six has risen to $43 000.

Mavima said salary increments would disturb the ongoing International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff-monitored programme which has resulted in government imposing tight fiscal policy measures aimed at arresting public spending.

“That is counterproductive .That is why we are talking about maintaining minimal charges for now because we want to maintain a balance where we can reserve resources for construction of roads, schools, and health facilities instead of paying public servants just to sit without service delivery or infrastructural delivery,” he said on Thursday last week.

“There has to be a painful and sometimes delicate balance between meeting the demand of our public service and maintaining some resources for the country.”

But the unions said government could not claim that it was trying to grow the economy through austerity measures that cut salaries of already under-paid civil servants.

“The misguided attitude of trying to grow the economy through slashing salaries will be a disaster. Aggregate demand will be suppressed leading to further contraction of the economy. Austerity has never worked and unfortunately, our government officials are behaving like a fool who celebrates a congratulatory message from a con-artist who is plotting to dupe them,” Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure said.

He said IMF policies had ruined global economies, adding that austerity measures, coupled with corruption and misgovernance would bring Zimbabwe’s economy to its knees.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou said: “Mavima’s assertions will cripple the productive sectors of the economy and must be considered as a dangerous joke. Teachers have never asked for a salary increase, but restoration of the purchasing power parity of their salaries that were pegged at US$520-US$550 in October 2018. Our plight must never be decided by neo-liberal policies that entrench the shocking contrast between poverty of workers and richness of a few elite rulers.”

Zhou said government should justify paying hefty salaries to other government workers at the expense of teachers.

Zimbabwe Teachers Association secretary-general Goodwell Taderera said: “We are highly shocked and disgusted by the minister’s purported utterances of a no salary increment situation. I think that is a mischievous statement to say the least, especially coming from a minister who is supposed to be fighting in our corner. I hope he did not mean what he said.” Newsday

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