We’re starving, govt workers cry

Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) president, Obert Masaraure, urged government to treat the matter with urgency.

FUNERAL policies and medical aid contributions are gobbling up a huge chunk of civil servants earnings, leaving most of them with little for food, rent, school fees and transport, NewsDay has been informed.

Medical aid and funeral policy service providers have been increasing the cost of their products to hedge against losses resulting from inflation and a fast depreciating Zimbabwe dollar.

Civil servants, who recently pleaded with the government to reconsider the taxes on their United States dollar salary component, told NewsDay that they are literally starving.

Early this year, government converted civil servants’ COVID-19 allowances into taxable earnings, but the workers have since complained that the money is being so heavily taxed that it is now a meaningless earning.

In interviews with NewsDay, civil servants had no kind works for their employer for failing to cushion them against the ever rising cost of living.

Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Confederation of Public sector Trade Unions, formerly the Apex Council, David Dzatsunga told NewsDay in an interview that civil servants are seething.

“The issue is that the RTGS component of our salaries is now getting eaten up by deductions, especially from insurance and debts,” Dzatsunga said.

“All that is taking up a lot of our RTGS component to the extent that workers are getting figures which are actually minus their salaries after the deductions.”

He said civil servants were eagerly waiting for the government to urgently convene a meeting to discuss their salaries and living conditions.

“The situation as it stands is very critical and it requires that the employer really moves very quickly to meet up and resolve the situation.”

Some teachers accused funeral policy and medical aid companies of deducting huge amounts from their meagre wages without consulting contributors.

“As of this month, some members of certain funeral assurance companies (names given) received messages notifying deductions of amounts as high as ZWL$500 000 and above.

“The RTGS component does not exceed ZWL$900 000. The component is not sufficient to service these vital services. One is left with nothing at all,” they said.

Progressive Teachers Union Zimbabwe president, Takafira Zhou said their members’ earnings had become inadequate because they are being over-taxed.

“The current basic salary of US$300 is grossly inadequate considering that it is now taxed and suffers heavy deductions from medical aid and other deductions from teachers as responsible parents,” he said.

Zhou reiterated their call for the government to pay a basic salary of US$540, housing allowance of US$300, US$100 transport allowance and $100 for education.

“The best form of investment is in the education of pupils and those entrusted with the nurturing of the youths or pupils must be motivated so that they engineer a skill’s revolution that can foster development, innovation and dynamism so crucial for sustainable development of Zimbabwe,” he said.

Zhou described underpaying teachers as “a crime committed against the future development of the country”.

Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) president, Obert Masaraure, urged government to treat the matter with urgency.

“The government is advised to treat the issue of remuneration with the urgency it deserves. It’s unacceptable to pay the same depressing salaries in a context where inflation is spiralling out of control,” Masaraure said.

He also called on civil servants to stand up for their rights to force the government to take them serious.

“Artuz calls on all teachers of Zimbabwe to stop whining and complaining, but come together and fight for the restoration of their dignity. We can no longer afford to give excuses, we have to fight with our blood and our lives,” Masaraure said.

Zimbabwe is currently experiencing hyper-inflationary conditions with the cost of living racing away beyond the reach of many in the public and private sector as dollarisation calls grow.

Government has, however, resisted calls to re-dollarise, announcing this week plans to introduce a gold-backed currency, an old tune which it seems to be reciting from the past.

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