Simba Rushwaya/Xolisani Ncube
Government workers and their representatives have rejected the government’s US$13 equivalent of the 50 percent salary increment awarded last month.
Government on Tuesday awarded civil servants a 50 percent salary hike which translated loosely to US$13 as Zimbabwe’s largest labour body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) said it will embark on a strike beginning next week.
The development also comes as 13 nurses were on Monday arrested after staging demonstrations at Harare Central and Parirenyatwa Hospitals demanding higher wages saying that the current salaries were useless against the runaway inflation.
Doctors at public health centres have also vowed to join the on-going industrial action by nurses in solidarity with their arrested colleagues.
In its latest increment, the government deposited $1 290 into civil servants’ accounts but the workers are demanding salaries to be pegged in US dollars because the economy has since partially dollarized.
“Dear Minister of Finance (Mthuli Ncube); we have seen your 50% increment. What is $1 290 RTGS? What do our members use it for? Where do you guys get this nonsense, no to schools opening on 28 July,” charged the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) in response to the figure.
Peter Mutasa, the president of ZCTU warned that starting next week, they will roll out massive demonstrations.
“The arrest of striking nurses shows that ours is a pariah state. Instead of shutting out genuine voices demanding fair labour conditions, the government must shut out poverty. All workers must prepare for massive peaceful protests, we have no time,” said Mutasa.
Speaking at a solidarity protest for the arrested nurses, Tapiwanashe Kusotera, a member of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association said they are joining the industrial action which was begun by nurses on June 18 until the arrested health workers had been released.
“For now, the government must release our nurses whom they arrested for demanding a living wage then we can start to discuss the way forward.
“You cannot arrest a nurse and expect me as a doctor to work, how? So for now release our colleagues and we are able to engage each other thereafter,” Kusotera said.
The health workers want to be paid their salaries in US dollars as they allege the local currency was valueless and not enough to sustain their wellbeing.
Enoch Dongo, the president of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association said all they are asking for was a living wage.
“We are saying to our employer pay us in US dollars or give us salaries that are equivalent to what we used to earn on 1 October 2019,” he said.
The latest industrial action comes as the country’s economy is paralysed and wages have been eroded.
The health workers had a torrid time with police officers who were against their picketing and industrial action.
The annual inflation surged to 785 percent in May from 765.57 percent in April, according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat).
The month-on-month inflation rate in May was 15.13 percent from April’s 17. Acheter du Viagra® sur Internet asgg.fr/ : quelles précautions ? 64 percent.
While many civil servants earn around $5 000, Zimbabwe’s poverty datum line (PDL) increased to $7 426 in April from $6 421 in March.
The data shows financial requirements for a family of five to live a basic comfortable life and not be deemed poor continued to go up.
“The Total Consumption Poverty Line for one person during the same period was $1 485,16 while that for an average of five persons per household stood at $7 425,81,” Zimstat said.
The rise in the cost of living reflects the impact of inflation caused mainly by exchange rate instability which has seen the local currency lose its value against the United States dollar, while prices of basic commodities skyrocket.