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Govt, employees salary talks resume

LIVINGSTONE MARUFU

Salary talks between the government and its employees resume next week as parties move to find a lasting solution after teachers boycotted classes when examination classes reopened on Monday.

The talks broke down last week with government employees insisting on a salary of US$475 per month which they were getting in October 2018.

The salary talks come as the economy has taken a knock with high inflation eroding the disposable salaries at a time the economy is redollarising.

The Apex Council, which represents 15 trade unions and an umbrella body for all government employees, argued that teachers will resume work after their grievances are resolved.

Apex Council chairperson Cecilia Alexander said the parties agreed to resume talks on Wednesday “to pave way for the talks which will bring long lasting solutions”.

“We will be meeting government representatives including the labour minister [Paul Mavima] but the situation which is a bit worrying is that the meeting will not bring instant solutions to our problems as representatives don’t have decisionmaking powers.

They have to go and tell their principals and take back the answers to us.

That’s why we would have loved the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor John Mangudya and Finance and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube to be present to help us on exchange rates and our US$475 per month salary cap,” Alexander said.

Mavima told Business Times he hoped for long lasting solutions at the meeting.

“New meeting is scheduled for October 7 2020 and we are hopeful that some successful seeds will be sown from that meeting,” Mavima said.

Workers have frequently gone on strike since 2018 as the local currency continues to devalue against major currencies. Inflation is hovering around 760% and teachers say their salaries have not kept pace, with the average salary equivalent to between US$30 and US$35.

The government has in the past insisted it has no resources to match the salary demand of the civil servants. In June, the Treasury announced the payment of a US$75 Covid-19 allowance to the civil service which was going to run for three months.

The allowance has been extended to year end. The government announced this week that it would pay cost of living adjustment to civil servants to cushion them while salary negotiations continue.

Experts say a lasting solution has to be found to allow teachers to attend classes and allow the smooth flowing of the rearranged school calendar.

The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council examination classes resumed on Monday, with other classes coming back in phases.

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