Civil servants accept deal on allowances

Zimbabwe’s public sector workers have agreed to end the strike action they started last week and return to work on Wednesday, after a deal was struck with government to increase transport and housing allowances by US$58 per month.

No salary increases were secured by the Apex Council representing civil servants. But it was agreed that a small committee of both workers and government representatives would be created, to track revenue flowing into the national treasury.

Richard Gundani, secretary general of Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta), explained that although no agreement was signed, the ‘tracking’ exercise would be good for accountability.

“Tracking revenue is an important activity that will enhance transparency. The information will be useful to Zimbabweans in general,” Gundani said.

He added that the combined total of US$58 in allowances was far from the US$288 per month salary increment they were demanding, but they would continue their efforts by appealing to the Prime Minister.

“We realize this is not enough. It is far from being adequate but we believe there is so much stress out there. Public sector workers are in dire straits so it was prudent that we take this meanwhile,” Gundani said.

The workers have for years been demanding salaries in line with the basic requirements set by government itself: the poverty datum line. Public sector workers currently earn a minimum of US$250 per month, which amounts to less than half the US$538 required monthly for a family of four.

Insisting there is no money for wages and revenue from diamonds was uncertain, government last week offered what amounted to a US$7 increase per month, which infuriated the workers. The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) described it as an insult, pointing to the fact that legislators had recently demanded and received US$15,000 in allowances that had not been paid.

Gundani said government on Tuesday availed US$240 million which will be used to increase the allowances. He explained that the revenue that is to be tracked by the new committee will be money going into the national treasury, especially funds from the mining sector. – SW Radio Africa News

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