Hidden pay hike offer to civil servants unmasked
AN investigation by The NewsHawks has revealed the blatantly paltry pay hike offer the government has dangled to public sector workers at the National Joint Negotiation Council (NJNC).
The employees have agreed to keep the exact detail of the offer under wraps in order to avoid public outrage, but we reveal the amount.
The negotiation meeting, held on the 9th floor boardroom of Kaguvi Building in Harare between representatives of the Public Service Commission (PSC) and emissaries of civil servants under the banner of the Zimbabwe Congress of Public Sector Trade Unions (ZCPSTU), ended in a deadlock.
It was postponed to next Thursday. The civil servants’ demand through ZCPSTU was US$840 salaries, which was an increase on the US$540 that they have long pushed for. The US$540 was pegged on public sector salaries during the power-sharing Government of National Unity.
After the meeting, ZCPSTU said it agreed not to publicise the government’s offer until an agreement has been reached. ZCPSTU chairperson Cecilia Alexander said the exact figures pertaining to the government’s offer were too little and embarrassing, but she would not disclose them.
“We agreed with government not to publicise the offer in order for negotiations to proceed in good faith. We outrightly rejected the offer from government,” Alexander said.
“What government offered as increments was too little from what we are asking. However, we agreed for further engagements. We allowed government to make further consultations so that it comes up with meaningful proposals at the negotiation table.”
However, The NewsHawks can reveal that the government offered: a 50% Zimdollar increment, US$20 across the board, US$50 teaching allowance converted to Zimdollars on the prevailing interbank market rate and US$30 to the rest of the public sector workers, also converted to local currency.
Teachers are currently earning at least ZW$36 000 and US$120, plus US$75 Covid-19 allowance. The government’s offer therefore falls very far below the expectations of restive civil servants, especially teachers in rural areas.
Obert Masaraure (pictured), the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe president, said his organisation foresaw the negotiation deadlock and urged its members to go on strike. He revealed that while ZCPSTU was pushing for a US$840 salary, his organisation had a different figure of US$1 260 for teachers which it wants the employer to pay.
“As we rightly predicted, the 1st of March hyped National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) meeting didn’t yield any results. Our members must stay home and continue to apply pressure on the employer.”
“We have been generous with our labour at the expense of the welfare of our families. It is high time we attend to the needs of our families. Our labour must be fairly compensated,” he said, adding: “We will only be demobilised by a substantial US dollar salary increment, our demand is US$1 260. Housing allowance and transport allowance are non-negotiable, government should meet the market rates, US$200 housing and US$80 transport.”
Over the years, the Alexander-led Apex Council has been accused of betraying civil servants in negotiations by agreeing to bad salary deals with the government and Masaraure reiterated the fears.
“We brace ourselves for long empty statements from the ‘negotiators’. They will agree to a bad deal and try to convince us that it was the best. We understand how the ‘negotiators’ think. They think we are gullible and are ready to accept anything and everything they sell to us,” he said.