Harare, (New Ziana) – Civil servants on Friday rejected a government offer to double their salaries following crunch negotiations.
The proposed 97 percent salary increase would have taken the salary for the lowest paid government workers to $2 033 from $1 023.
But the workers, represented through the Apex Council, instead turned down the offer, insisting that government benchmarks their October 2018 salary of US$475 but paid in local currency.
If that demand was met, the lowest paid worker would earn about ZWL$8 060, at current the exchange rate of US$1 to ZWL$16.97.
“They did not even try to match our demands, so we are going back to those who sent us to represent them and they will tell us what to do next,” Apex Council chairperson Cecilia Alexander said after the meeting.
Government has said the demand to link the salary to the interbank rate was untenable.
At the Friday meeting, government also proposed to give the workers a cushioning allowance of $750.
“We will not reject the allowance but its value has already been eroded,” Alexander said.
She said the full Apex Council members will meet on Monday to map the way forward.
Last October, civil servants declared financial incapacity to continue reporting for duty arguing their salaries had been eroded by inflation.
A combination of high inflation and currency reforms implemented by government, they said, had drastically eroded their earnings, which were down to US$60 from US$475.
If not benchmarked to the exchange rate, then government has to set the salaries in such a way that they are adjusted to movements in inflation, the civil servants proposed.
Due to the rising cost of living, especially transport fares, some government workers were being forced to borrow money from loan sharks to go to work, the Apex Council said at the time.
On Thursday, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Mthuli Ncube expressed hope that the two parties would reach a compromise.
He stressed that the need to balance workers’ and government interests to ensure the budget remains manageable.