By Admore Marambanyika
The government has disregarded the ongoing salary negotiations following its unilateral increment of salaries of civil servants, members of parliament, independent commissions, grant-aided institutions and pensioners by 100 percent.
The increments are effective February 1 for the security sector and 1 April for the rest of the civil service a development which has caused a huge uproar as other sections of the civil service allege favouritism towards the security sector.
In a letter written to the Public Service Commission on the 15th of March, Finance Ministry Permanent Secretary George Guvamatanga said Covid-19 allowances have been increased from US$200 to US$250 and teachers will also get a monthly teaching allowance of US$80.
The salaries will however be paid in the local currency.
“The approved review is as follows and is in accordance with earlier discussions and agreement with the principals. 100 percent remuneration review to gross ZWL emoluments from Deputy Director and below for all sectors.
“The increase in Cushioning and Covid Allowances from $200 to $250 across all sectors with exception to the health sector takes effect on March 1, 2023 for the Security Sector and April 1, 2023 for the rest of the civil service, taking into account March 2023 developments in the sector,” Guvamatanga said.
“The approved framework for remuneration reviews takes into account the requirement to continuously enhance the general welfare of public employees while attempting to stay within the budget and respecting the general rule of maintaining wage bills at sustainable levels so as not to compete with other expenditures. Given that the effective date is February 2023, it is critical to note that March bills for the security sector included the February back pay for the gross ZWL emoluments from Deputy Director equivalent grades and below. Furthermore, to avoid similar occurrences in the future, the Salary Service Bureau should implement salary reviews after the requisite salary key scales have been validated by the treasury,” he said.
Civil servants have however scorned the new increments describing them as inadequate and far below the poverty datum line. Teachers are sticking to their guns demanding a minimum of UDSD1200-00 per month.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union (ARTUZ) said they rejected the increment because it is far less than their demand of a USD 1 200 per month.
“The quantum of the offer is not in sync with current realities of the teacher. If calculated the amount leaves the teacher living on less than a third of the basket of needs and cost of living. Thus the offer is not worth accepting because teachers remain poor. The USD 80 per month which will be converted to local currency doesn’t cater for the school fees needs. The 100% increment makes a total of ZWL 80 000 and means housing allowance will just be ZWL 14 000. The pathetic figures must be rejected,” said ARTUZ in statement.
ARTUZ described the offer as illegitimate as it was not a product of a genuine process of collective bargaining as envisaged by section 203 (1) (b) of the constitution and read along with section 65 where the employer is not allowed to unilaterally change conditions of service.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PRTUZ), President Takavafira Zhou castigated government for taking a unilateral decision to increase the salaries before reaching an agreement with public service workers under the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC).
“For the avoidance of doubt teachers and the rest of civil servants must take cognisance of the fact that the figures circulated in the communique are a product of figures discussed in the second meeting with workers’ representatives, that government team was persuaded to go back and reconsider by workers’ representatives. In the first meeting, the government team had even brought miserable figures of 50 percent ZWL remuneration review and increase of cushion and covid-19 allowances from US$200 to US$220,” he said
Labour Minister Paul Mavhima said government coffers were dry and cannot afford the salaries demanded by civil servants.