US dollar pay rise for civil servants

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PUBLIC sector workers have started receiving an improved United States dollar salary, while the local currency portion of their pay has now been indexed to the prevailing official exchange rate in a development expected to strengthen civil servants’ purchasing power.

Indexing of the Zimdollar portion of the salaries to the prevailing exchange rate will ensure that their buying power is insulated against movements in the exchange rate.

In addition, the US dollar increment is expected to restore the value of Government workers’ pay following January’s conversion of Covid-19 allowances into taxable salaries.

In recent months, civil servants’ pay had been eroded by inflation, and the latest adjustment is expected to sustainably restore their purchasing power.

Some civil servants started receiving the new pay, whose flat US dollar component is now pegged at US$320, up from US$300, on Friday.

The latest salary adjustment was the result of a provisional agreement struck between the Government and representatives of public sector workers under the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) held on Thursday.

The NJNC is expected to meet again in April to chart the way forward.

Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Permanent Secretary Mr Simon Masanga on Friday confirmed the salary adjustment, saying a formal notice will be issued this week.

“I have been advised by the Government’s chief negotiator in the wage negotiations, Mr Nobert Machinjike, that they have made great progress with the employees, and I understand the payments have started,” he said.

“I am not yet well-updated with the contents of the document, but we will give a comprehensive position once we have all the details.”

Speaking to The Sunday Mail yesterday, Mr Machinjike said: “Yes, we had a meeting and we agreed on something, but I am not in a position to share the contents of the outcomes from the meeting . . .”

In a separate interview, Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions president Mrs Cecilia Alexander commended the Government for making the adjustments.

“We had a fruitful meeting with the employer. Indexation of the local currency component to the prevailing exchange rate is a testimony that the Government is now committed to keeping the value of the worker’s salary.

“On top of that, a raise to US$320 is a positive move towards what we want,” she said.

“However, from what we agreed, we will be sitting soon so that we iron out what is left out because our position is to ensure that the employer raises the salary to afford the worker a decent lifestyle, affording all the basics.”

The civil servants’ umbrella union, she said, was pushing for the latest adjustment to be backdated to January this year.

“We want to push for a backdated payment to January 1, 2024 so that the employees recover what was lost for the past months due to inflation.

“For now, the employer cited that it is still the start of the year and revenues are still low but promised to improve the salaries in line with our requests,” added Mrs Alexander.

A civil servant, Mr Jubilant Masungise, applauded the Government.

“It has always been our plea for the Government to peg our salaries in US dollars to hedge against inflation.

“I think they have made a good improvement.

“However, we were expecting to have our salaries backdated because the local currency component was eroded months back,” he said.

The Government introduced a US$75 Covid-19 allowance in 2020 and has progressively increased it to US$300, but since it was an allowance, it was exempted from being taxed.

In January, this was reviewed and the allowances became part of the pensionable salary.

As the improvement of the welfare of workers has remained a top priority, a 15-member team was appointed, with the mandate to negotiate at the NJNC for two years with effect from January 1 this year. – Sunday Mail