By Blessed Mhlanga | NewsDay |
GOVERNMENT has fended off a potentially crippling industrial action in the civil service after President Emmerson Mnangagwa assented to a pay raise for the restive workers effective next month.
The new deal will see the least paid government worker taking home around ZWL$1 000, from the current ZWL$600, sources told NewsDay.
Mnangagwa met civil servant leaders in the Apex Council at State House on Friday, where the workers pleaded incapacitation, telling him that they would be unable to report for duty because they could barely afford basics and make ends meet.
The Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina), which had warned that its members would go on strike this week, said following the meeting with Mnangagwa, they had now shelved their planned job action.
“During the meeting, the (Zina) executive was given an opportunity to present the grievances of the nursing profession. Of the grievances discussed, the one which was dealt with at great length was the issue relating to remuneration, wherein the executive reiterated that due to incapacity, the nurses would not be attending work from June 24 unless salaries are increased,” Zina said.
Mnangagwa, who was in the company of his Finance minister Mthuli Ncube, acting Labour minister Monica Mutsvangwa, Health minister Obadiah Moyo and chairperson of the Public Service Commission, Vincent Hungwe, promised to increase civil servants’ salaries and asked for the strike action to be shelved.
“The President and those in attendance understood the position of the nurses and gave an undertaking that salaries were going to be reviewed. More specifically, the undertaking was that salaries were going to be reviewed upwards from July 1 … As a result, a request was made that nurses withhold their intention to embark on a full-scale industrial action,” Zina said.
Mutsvangwa confirmed the meeting, saying Mnangagwa met with teachers, other civil servants and “listened” to their problems.
“We have a listening President and he spent the better part of the day listening and the government is going to act. What I can say is wait for the Minister of Finance to give an official statement on what was agreed,” she said.
Insiders told NewsDay that civil servants would also be offered a hardship allowance in July, although the figures are yet to be fixed.
The deal will remain in place up until government introduces an official new currency which government sees as a panacea to the skyrocketing inflation, which has eroded salaries to the point that the lowest paid effectively earns US$36 per month on the current black market rate.
Government expects to have a new currency in place by the end of March next year.
MDC treasurer-general David Coltart said salary increases would not solve the current crisis because this would only serve to push up prices and inflation.