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CIVIL servants will next Tuesday stage demonstrations in Harare against Finance Minister Tendai Biti for failing to award them salary increment this year. Speaking after a three-hour Apex Council
meeting in Harare yesterday, Government workers representatives said while they would want President Mugabe to consider their proposals, they would, for the meantime, mobilise for a protest march to Minister Biti’s offices.
The Apex Council brings together the Public Service Association, Zimbabwe Teachers Association, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Teachers Union of Zimbabwe and the College Lecturers Association of Zimbabwe.
Apex Council chairperson Mrs Tendai Chikowore said Government, through Minister Biti, had displayed “arrogance and insensitivity” to the plight of the workers.
“We are disturbed and insulted by the arrogance of a Government that has demonstrated propensity of the living wage yet it claims to be poor. The announcement by the Minister is meaningless and highly provocative.
“Because of this disgruntlement we are going to stage a massive protest and from there we will map the way forward,” she said.
Mrs Chikowore, who is also Zimta president, said the unions would begin mobilising for the protests today.
Presenting the Mid-Term Fiscal Policy on Wednesday, Minister Biti erased hopes that civil servants would receive salary increment this year.
He said the workers should appreciate that it was impossible to adjust salaries upwards as Government had already missed its revenue targets.
Civil servants had given Government a two-week ultimatum to improve their salaries and working conditions or face a nationwide strike.
The workers are demanding an all-inclusive salary of US$564 for the least paid worker and 15 percent of the basic salary as rural allowance.The least paid Government worker is getting US$296.
TUZ chief executive, Mr Manuel Nyawo, said they were still pinning their hopes on President Mugabe.
“He (Biti) has failed to give the matter of salaries the seriousness it deserves. We thought we were going to get some cushioning since there was nothing for us since the beginning of the year, but as it stands there is nothing to year end.
“Our hopes are still on the ultimate authority of this country who is President Mugabe,” he said.
The workers wrote to President Mugabe last month imploring him to intervene in the salary impasse.
PTUZ secretary, Raymond Majongwe, said despite stating that Government was broke, senior Government officials were exhibiting “unparalled extravagance”.
“Where is that money coming from? We are not going to rest until we get what we deserve. Prices are going up and many workers are failing to make ends meet,” he said.
The workers have been agitating for a salary increment that is in line with the Poverty Datum Line for the past three years without success.
The workers approached the President last year after exhausting all negotiating channels and subsequently got an increment after meeting him.
Minister Biti has repeatedly told them Treasury is operating on a “shoe-string budget” and salaries would be improved when the revenue inflows improve.