Civil servants welcome USD pay increase

Ivan Zhakata

Herald Correspondent

Civil servants have welcomed the 25 percent salary increment in that portion of pay paid in US dollars, although they would like it to be higher, but teachers especially said there was inequality in allowances and wished to see every State employee having the same conditions of service.

Civil servants will be getting a total US$200 as the foreign currency component, up from the US$175 of recent months, made up of the unaltered US$75 a month Covid-19 allowance plus, now, US$125 a month as the standard US dollar portion, up from US$100.

The Government has also committed itself to continue paying the annual bonus, a 13th cheque, in foreign currency as was done last year. Full details of that payment are still being settled, but last year the large majority of civil servants had the full allowance in foreign currency, with only some senior staff seeing the payment split.

The rest of their salary and allowances are paid in local currency, with the foreign currency slice designed to ensure that they have some protection from inflationary forces.

Teachers have welcomed the increment saying it will go a long way in complementing their salaries earned in local currency but pleaded with the Government to increase their allowances to meet those of some others in State service whom they said had higher allowances. 

These allowances, like much of the salary, are paid in local currency. The teachers intervention is part of the larger salary negotiations that go beyond the foreign currency slice.

The new salary regime was tabled on Tuesday during a meeting of the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) that brings together the major civil service unions and the Government negotiators. The meeting saw Government committed to paying the 13th cheque in foreign currency.

Secretary-General of the Association of School Heads Mr Munyaradzi Majoni said they welcomed the increment.

“Any increment is welcome though we are still lagging behind when compared to other Government departments. Education is paid five times less than nurses and other civil servants. Our allowances are too low and the allowances should be the same for all civil servants But we welcome the increment,” he said.

Mrs Cynthia Khumalo, chairperson of the National Association of Primary Schools noted the increment as welcome but wanted the foreign currency slice increased to US$540.

“We appreciate the increment but we want the authorities to look further into the issue because 25 percent will not change anything. It is difficult to accept but at least the increment is better than nothing.

“We want the money to be reviewed to US$540 because we once earned that money some time back during the dollarisation era,” she said.

Zimbabwe Teachers’ Union (Zimta) secretary-general Mr Goodwill Taderera said while they welcomed the increment there was a need to increase it to meet that of others in the civil service.

“The money is not adequate or to our expectations. When the minister promised us an increment, we had higher expectations. We want social dialogue to prevail so that we can address our concerns to the Government,” he said. 

He also wished the total package to have a minimum of the equivalent of US$500 in salaries and allowances, a long term negotiating position of the civil service unions.

Apex Council president Mrs Cecelia Alexander on Tuesday confirmed the new salary package that Government has offered to employees.

“The employer offered an increase of 25 percent on the USD$100 to make it US$125 and maintained the USD$75 Covid-19 allowance to make the total US dollar package US$200 with effect from September 1, 2022. The workers acknowledged the increase but chose to wait for specific modalities on how this is going to be implemented,” she said.

“The employer did not offer or table any increase on the Zimbabwe dollar salary and the workers demanded that this be also reviewed without fail. In the end the Government side asked for time out to consult.”

Mrs Alexander said the meeting also deliberated on the payment of bonuses where the employer guaranteed that the bonus is assured.

“Government committed to paying the 2022 bonus in US dollars but did not provide any figures and again asked for time to consult on the payment details and the total offer.”

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