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Public servants reject increases

Blessings Mashaya

CIVIL servants have rejected a 40 percent salary increase awarded to them on Tuesday by the government, the Daily News can report.

This comes as teachers, who make up the bulk of public sector workers, have been on strike since September — pressing for better salaries and adequate personal protective equipment in light of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

The increase, which takes effect from November 1, will see the lowest paid civil servant earning $14 528 a month.

It also means that the least paid teachers now get $18 237 a month, with all educators to be given an extra 10 percent of their salaries as a risk allowance.

However, Gibson Mushangu — the deputy secretary general of the Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (ZCPSTU), formerly the Apex Council — told the Daily News yesterday that the increment was unacceptable.

“We still reiterate that nothing is for us without us. The government just imposed the figures.

“Unfortunately, this figure comes before the NJNC (National Joint Negotiating Conference) meeting set for Friday. We are not there to just rubber-stamp the government’s offer.

“The figure must come through engagement. The so-called increment lacks our ownership and it has nothing to do with us,” Mushangu told the Daily News.

“Our demands are still the same. We need salaries equivalent to the US dollars which we were getting before the re-introduction of the local currency,” he added.

Before the re-introduction of the Zimbabwe dollar, civil servants were earning about US$520 a month. At the beginning of the year, most civil servants, teachers included, earned below $5 000 a month.

Since January, the government has increased public sector salaries significantly.

This comes as the industrial action by teachers has paralysed learning, amid calls that the government must call off this year’s public examinations.

Nurses and doctors have also been pressing for better remuneration, and want their salaries paid in US dollars.

Meanwhile, the president of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), Takavafira Zhou, said yesterday that they would not go back to work despite the latest salary hike.

“Incapacitated teachers have rejected the 40 percent salary increase offered by Cabinet. The increase is procedurally defective and grossly insufficient in quantum.

“The government’s unilateral paternalism is tantamount to oppressive generosity, callousness and a monument of unfair labour practice.

“Salaries and conditions of service are subject to bargaining between the employer and workers. The government’s attempts to render unions useless must be rejected in toto,” Zhou said.

“As PTUZ and part of the United Front of Teacher Unions, we reiterate our readiness for meaningful dialogue with the government.

“The only issue that may not need dialogue is the restoration of the purchasing power parity of teachers’ salaries to pre-October 2018 levels of US$520 to US$550 a month.

“We are worried by government officials’ unpalatable submissions that increasing teachers’ salaries would lead to inflation,” Zhou said further.

On his part, the president of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union (ARTUZ), Obert Masaraure, said they would remain on strike.

“The government’s unilateral offer is an assault on the basic tenets of labour justice and an insult to the suffering teachers.

“We would expect the government to respect the workers’ right to collective bargaining and award increments after negotiating with workers.

“Unfortunately, the government disregards workers’ rights and awards gifts just like Father Christmas,” the outspoken Masaraure said.

This comes after the final phase of the reopening of public schools countrywide suffered a setback this week after many teachers failed to turn up for work — forcing some overwhelmed school heads to send learners back home.

The secretary-general of the National Association for Primary Schools Headmasters (Naph), Kufakunesu Rupere, confirmed to the Daily News that heads of schools were overwhelmed by the situation at their schools — leaving many of them with no choice but to order learners to go back home.

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