By Staff Reporter
Government workers, accusing their employer of negotiating in bad faith, have rejected a 70 percent salary increment demanding to be paid their obtaining 2018 wages of between US$520 and US$550.
The employees have been engaged in a protracted wage battle with the Civil Service Commission since government ceased to pay them in foreign currency arguing that their salaries were immensely devalued with the reintroduction of the local currency.
Government had tabled a 25 percent salary increment effective April and another 45 percent increment for June but the Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (ZCPSTU) which represents civil service unions in the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) said the offer was not sincere.
ZCPSTU secretary-general David Dzatsunga said the government had not shown commitment to an agreed position for a roadmap that led to the pre-October 2018 salaries.
“They have not shown any commitment to the roadmap to restore our value to pre-October 2018. We can’t sit and agree amicably and sign then people just decide not to look at that and start a new conversation ignoring that,” Dzatsunga said.
He accused government of rubber stamping decisions and forcing them upon its employees.
“You don’t publish an offer then come to us with the same offer and refuse to move from there,” he said.
Meanwhile the government has threatened to revoke the ‘no-work-no-pay’ principle for employees who are not reporting for duty in protest over poor salaries as the wage impasse escalates.
Public Service, Labour and Social Services Minister Paul Mavima said while government was still giving negotiations a chance it would not hesitate to implement a “no-work-no-salary” principle.
He said civil servants could not refuse to work prior to a declaration of a disagreement.
“Even if there was a disagreement, there will be an arbitration process which would be given an opportunity to go forward prior to the engagement in industrial action. So there is no basis whatsoever that while we are negotiating, civil servants will not go to work,” Mavima said.
Teachers unions have been at loggerheads with government over lower salary scales for teachers compared to other civil servants. Teachers received salaries in the range of $14 000 – 19 000 RTGS on average in March while security sector employees are said to have earned close to RTGS 30 000.
The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe blasted the negotiations as a fallacy accusing the negotiators of failing to restore their wage value.
“The teachers’ struggle for a better wage which we had tactically packaged as incapacitation was once again derailed by the usual NJNC drama which is routinely staged when schools open. The gullible among us werev hopeful and now that the verdict is out lets regroup. The 25% offer is an insult and the 45% promise is ridiculous. We demand our pre-October 2018 salaries, a minimum of USD520,” said the union in a statement.
The Zimbabwe Teachers Union (ZIMTA) reacted to the outcome by advising its members to adjust to a three-day working week to cushion them from incapacitation.
“Thus, beginning the 6″ of April 2021, our members will have a shorter working week to a maximum of three (3) days per week, i.e. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays only. Members are therefore appropriately advised and guided to join the struggle towards equitable and fair treatment in remuneration. The declaration will be reviewed by National Executive when circumstances change and necessitate review,” read a ZIMTA statement.
According to ZIMTA, teachers are saying the new salaries for April are still far below the pre - 0ctober 2018 salaries.
The new salary for a grade B1 employee of RTGS 16 798 is equal to USD199.03 at interbank rate of 84.40 with a deficit of USD340.97. ZIMTA is demanding a minimum of USD540 for the least paid teacher. In July, the same graded worker would be earning RTGS20 578 equivalent to USD243.82 at interbank rate of 84.40 and with a deficit of USD296.18.