GOVERNMENT yesterday called on teachers and civil servants to be realistic in their salary demands, saying any unreasonable demands would push them into printing money to fund employment costs, which would, in turn, trigger a new wave of inflation.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA/ RICHARD MUPONDE
This was revealed by Labour minister Paul Mavima during a post-Cabinet media briefing in Harare, where he said teachers must also consider the economic fundamentals in the country instead of making irrational demands.
Mavima’s statement comes as three teachers’ unions — the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta), the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) — refused to accept the 41% salary hike offered by government, insisting the deadlock be taken for arbitration.
They were, however, outvoted by other civil servants unions who accepted the 41% salary hike which government offered after the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) sat on Tuesday.
The offer, effective from November 1, will see the lowest paid teacher getting $19 000 and the lowest paid civil servant getting $14 000.
While Zimta ordered its members to go back to school, other teachers’ unions have vowed that their members would not go back to work until the employer has acceded to their demand for a US$520 salary.
“The alternative is to make demands that are unrealistic and then force government to print money and then bring back inflation and take us back to the yesteryear of 2008 which is not productive to anybody,” Mavima said.
“We have achieved stability. Let’s be realistic in our demands, let’s move our economy upwards together so that we can have decent salaries.”
He continued: “The Apex Council represents all civil service associations, including the teachers unions and, therefore, when the NJNC, which is the formal platform for negotiations, agrees on salary negations, individual unions cannot, therefore, come back and say we don’t agree, when their leadership has agreed and signed onto the salary negotiations.”
Mavima said government had been genuine in engaging with civil servants and was slowly moving them from the equivalent of US$30, to where they are now earning more than US$200.
“They have asked for a plough back to 2018 levels, that’s the US$520 they have been talking about, but we have already moved almost halfway to there and we are saying we are going to be realistic, we need to look at our fiscal space. We need to look at our economic conditions and realistically demand things that leave us as a country with the stability that we have achieved,” he said.
Mavima said hopefully with a good 2021 agricultural season, the economy would grow to the extent that government would be able to pay decent salaries.
However, Artuz president Obert Masaraure insisted that: “Teachers are not going back to school. Those who signed the document are sellouts. They are not teachers. Just signing a document does not capacitate teachers.”