Harare (New Ziana)-Government and civil servants representatives are scheduled to meet again this week to discuss salary increments, amid indications by the employer that it is unable to meet workers demands to be paid in United States dollars.
Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prof Paul Mavima told New Ziana on Tuesday that the two parties would be meeting this week, following a stalemate two weeks ago over workers demands for US dollar salaries.
Prof Mavima said although consultations were still going on over the workers demands, it was not feasible for the government to pay full salaries in foreign currency.
“We have maintained that it is not feasible at the moment to do that but we have provided relief by way of US$75 as Covid-19 allowances. I can safely say it’s not feasible for the government to generate enough resources to pay salaries in United States Dollars,” he said.
Mavima added: “It also defeats the entire orientation where we have said we need to build on our own currency so a transitional arrangement where something is paid in hard currency is much more feasible than a situation whereby you revert completely to USD”.
“We have done the US$75 for now. We have paid the first installment on that, so that’s where we are at now.”
Starting this month, the Government is paying civil servants and its pensioners Covid-19 risk allowances in United States dollars.
The allowance, which the government introduced at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, was previously paid in local currency, although pegged in US dollars.
Mavima said the government would respond to the workers’ demands at the next meeting.
“There is now discussion within the government in response to what the workers presented at that meeting. I cannot pre-empt anything now because those discussions are taking place,” he said.
Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions president Cecilia Alexander also confirmed the meeting, saying workers were insisting that only foreign currency denominated pay could end the negotiations.
“We are expecting to meet them this week. The bottom-line is that US$75 is not enough. The reason being we want real value for our work,” she said.
She added: “We strongly feel that if we are given USD, whether in a phased approach or what, the starting point should be something that is reasonable. We don’t want to continue chasing a moving target.”
In addition to the Covid-19 risk allowances now being paid in US dollars, the government has introduced a raft of other incentives for civil servants, including non-monetary ones such as transport and housing.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa is on record pledging to improve remuneration and working conditions for civil servants in tandem with economic recovery.
Already, urban-based government workers countrywide have been provided cheap transport to and from work through the Public Service Commission, a development which has addressed one of their main grievances.