TEACHERS have threatened industrial action if government does not adjust their salaries to $600 per month to cushion them against a wave of price increases and the central bank’s 2% tax on all electronic transfers.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has also rallied workers to take to the streets to protest the new tax regime that has sparked a wave of price increases of all basic commodities, consequently eroding ordinary workers’ disposal income.
According to reports, the ZCTU is yet to announce the dates of the strike action.
Prices of basic commodities were already shooting up almost on a daily basis as the exchange rate went wild. Government maintains a 1:1 bond note to US$ exchange rate but the situation is different on the parallel market.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said teachers want government not only to review their salaries, but to ensure their pay is in United States dollars.
The monetary policy statement by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe effectively means workers are no longer earning US$, but a local currency.
“Given the fall in the value of our salaries, our hard working and patriotic members hereby give the government an ultimatum to restore our salaries to not less than US$600, failure to which we may be forced to a collective job action to demand the same,” Majongwe said yesterday without mentioning when the educators will embark on a strike action.
He argued the government had the capacity to pay them in greenbacks.
“It is a statement of fact that the government is receiving most of its revenue in US$ and not in the less valuable Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS), and, therefore, has capacity to pay our salaries in US and not in RTGS as per the policy pronouncement.”
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) president Obert Masaraure weighed in saying rural-based teachers would join the industrial action, as their hard-earned salaries were being eroded by the government’s monetary and fiscal policies such as the recent introduction of a new punitive tax regime.
“It is against this background that Artuz rejects RTGS salaries as they were never agreed upon through a formal bipartisan negotiating platform. Our employer cannot just adjust our salaries without our consent. We still expect our salaries in US dollars until fresh negotiations are conducted,” Masaraure said.
“This is another wage theft herein the government is giving us a salary with the right hand and claims it is back using the left hand. We reject the tax regime and stand ready to defend our wages by any means necessary.”
Zanu PF has also expressed concern over the recent price hikes.
Industry and Commerce minister Mangaliso Ndlovu concurred, saying the government will come up with measures to address the price hikes. He said the price hikes were speculative and unjustified.