News Column

No Money for U.S $78 Civil Service Pay Hike

February 12, 2014

THE cash-strapped government last month arm-twisted civil servants into agreeing a minimum pay hike of $78 but the State workers have now learnt that there is no money to fund the adjustment.

President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party promised to nearly double salaries for the 230,000-strong civil service in the run-up to last July's elections but backtracked sharply after realising the parlous state of government finances after the vote.

Still, the deal represented some progress for the workers who had unsuccessfully battled the former coalition government for better working conditions.

But, with the new deal increasing the government's wage bill to US$155 million per month, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa has been forced to plead for time saying the earliest he could implement the increase would be in April.

"He (Chinamasa) was baring his soul that he has no resources at the moment to pay the salaries," said Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive Sifiso Ndlovu.

"He said everyone would have received his money backdated to January by April. He said budget overruns from last year were putting pressure on the fiscus and he was trying to work some solutions that do not result in retrenchments or failure to pay current salaries."

Labour minister Nicholas Goche would not comment on the issue, telling the Herald to speak to Chinamasa who was, however, not reachable.

Ndlovu said morale was low, adding workers were losing confidence in the government.

"This is a serious disappointment and for him (Minister Chinamasa) to come on the eleventh hour, failing to consult us will bring despondency in the industry," he said.

"Our confidence has been destroyed, as much as we understood some of the points he raised. He said during the first quarter of the year there are always cash flow problems."

The deal agreed following negotiations would see the lowest-paid civil servant getting US$375, up from US$297.

Workers were demanding US$543 as the minimum pay and 30 percent of basic salary as rural allowance, but his remained unchanged at five percent.

In his budget statement, Chinamasa said the government wage bill was consuming an unsustainable 75 percent of revenue. He said this needed to be reduced to 30 percent by 2018.

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Source: AllAfrica

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