17 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Civil Servants Demand Poverty Datum Line-Based Salary Review

Civil servants yesterday said they still demand salaries that are in line with the poverty datum line despite the five percent inflation-linked salary increase announced by Finance Minister Tendai Biti.

Presenting the 2013 National Budget on Thursday, Minister Biti said civil servants would receive an inflation-linked salary increase next year.

Their representatives said indexing salaries to inflation would result in civil servants getting an insignificant increment.

Minister Biti said he would adjust the civil servants' salaries by 5,5 percent in line with the anticipated inflation level of five percent.

He said the Government would continue to improve the welfare of civil servants through "scaling up the provision of non-monetary incentives".

In an interview yesterday, Zimta chief executive Mr Sifiso Ndlovu said the announcement by Minister Biti would not improve the salaries and working conditions of the restive workers.

"The criteria he used of taking inflation into account means nothing for the worker because what is needed is a salary that tallies with the poverty datum line," he said.

He said the inflation-aligned salary increment would result in workers getting increments of less than US$20.

"We are still to get a real salary increment that we have been advocating for throughout the year and we still demand that to be addressed," he said.

Mr Ndlovu said Minister Biti should also ensure that the education sector gets real funding and not "nominal" figures.

"The budget has only confirmed the legacy of Zimbabwe prioritising education but the problem is we wait for that money to be channelled towards the education sector," he said.

"He has allocated about US$1 billion which is 27 percent of the total budget to education but at the end of the day it's not about figures but real funding being given to the sector."

Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe chief executive Mr Manuel Nyawo said there was nothing to celebrate about the US$1 000 tax free bonus threshold.

"The money comes once per year and why should we celebrate that? By the time we reach January, we will be broke and that doesn't change our situation," he said.

"The PDL is above US$600 but the minister is coming up with a five percent increment and what does that mean to someone earning US$296?"

College Lecturers Association of Zimbabwe president Mr David Dzatsunga said they would continue demanding salaries that would transform the lives of their members.

"This is the problem that arises when someone does not consult the parties involved in the salary increments," he said.

He said the civil servants would continue pressing their demand for a 'decent' salary increment.

"This means our war with him will never end until we get a decent salary increment. It is ridiculous for someone who spent the whole of 2012 without a salary increment to get five percent in a country where prices are adjusted regularly," he said.

Minister Biti said with the 5,5 percent adjustment the civil service wage bill would reach US$2,645 billion, which is about 68 percent of his total budget.

The total budget is US$3, 8 billion.

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