The government has offered civil servants a paltry 24% salary increment which they immediately rejected on Thursday and gave their employer a seven-day ultimatum to come up with new figures or face a nationwide strike.
According to the figures revealed to NewsDay from a meeting of the Apex Council and government on Thursday, the lowest paid teacher would now earn $241, inclusive of housing and transport allowances, up from $193.
Transport and housing allowances were increased by margins of between $6 and $9.
The Apex Council, composed of the Public Service Association, Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association, Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe and College Lecturers’ Association of Zimbabwe, met with government representatives over the matter on Thursday and flatly rejected the offer.
They demanded $502 as the starting salary for the lowest paid government worker.
Although she refused to discuss figures, Apex chairperson, Tendai Chikowore, confirmed that the civil servants had refused the government
“We have rejected the government offer and the rationale behind the rejection is that the government did not take into cognisance the position paper presented by the workers. We wanted $502 for the lowest paid worker, but what we got was not even half of our demands equal to or the poverty datum line (PDL), (which is about $500),” she said.
“The issue of transport and housing allowance was not adequately addressed because the housing allowances was increased by between $7 and $8 while transport allowance was increased by between $6 and $9.
“There was also no attempt by the government to resuscitate the rural allowance while non-monetary benefits which we discussed in Kariba were not mentioned.”
Prior to the increments the allowances were $9 for transport and $8 as accommodation.Chikowore said the proposal from government was in fact not different from what civil servants were getting last year.
“In 2010, we were trailing the poverty datum line by 70% and what came out today is the same. The increment means that we are earning 30% of the PDL,” she said.
PTUZ secretary-general, Raymond Majongwe said the new salary scales were indicative of the fact that the government wanted its workers to go on strike.
“It looks like somebody is telling us to go on strike and we will take heed,” Majongwe said.
“Contrary to what we were expecting and the headlines which you put in the media that civil servants would get a 100% salary increment, we actually got a slap on the face.
“As Apex, we have rejected the insult and given the government seven days to respond, and then we will pick up the pieces from there.”
Majongwe said teachers and other civil servants were psyched up for at least a 100% increment, as reported in the press after Finance minister Tendai Biti announced the 2010 Budget.
He however said they were told that part of the Budget allocation was for “other things” than salaries.
He said if the government was sincere, it would have corrected the misleading media reports then, instead of “traumatising” its workers.
Chikowore also said the government should have corrected the media reports as soon as they came out.
Biti, last November presented the 2011 national Budget, which raised the tax-free threshold to $225 and increased the purse for civil service wages by nearly 100% to $1,4 billion.
However, Biti on Tuesday said the doubling of the employment costs did not necessarily mean a 100% jump in salaries.
“You have to look at the budget statement,” he said.
“What doubled was the overall allocation to employment costs which include pensions. As the Ministry of Finance, we do not do the actual allocations to individuals.”