HARARE — Zimbabwean public servants have rejected an offer for a 100% pay increase from the government of the Southern African nation where inflation surged to 132% last month, Bloomberg reported.
Workers “flatly rejected” the state’s offer to double their pay, the Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions said in an emailed statement Friday. They demand that the lowest paid civil servant get $840 a month, compared with their current salary of 18,000 Zimbabwean dollars ($53). Alternatively, they want a paycheck that includes a mix of the greenback and the local currency.
Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rate jumped to the highest level in a year in May as food prices almost tripled. This was partly due a sharp depreciation in the Zimbabwe dollar that spurred authorities to use a variety of strategies to stem its decline.
The drop in the local currency and surging inflation have increased demand by workers and businesses for payments in the greenback, putting further pressure on the Zimbabwe dollar.
In a separate statement on Friday, the Zimbabwe Health Apex Council said health workers will start striking on June 20 due to prevailing poor service conditions that have caused “more than 4,000 resignations” in the sector in the last three years.
The government will review the salaries of public sector workers “in the next few weeks,” finance minister Mthuli Ncube said on Wednesday.
Ncube spoke in parliament as the government comes under pressure from unions who are threatening job boycotts over salaries which have been haemorrhaged by inflation.
“As I speak, we are seized with discussions with the leaders of the civil service to agree on a new package for civil servants. We are working on it and we should be able to conclude in the next few weeks,” Ncube told MPs.
“In the next few weeks, we will deal with that issue which does not only cover civil servants, we will also cover members of this House, everyone is included including the Honourable Members who have asked me the question.
“We’ll make sure that we improve the income levels for everyone so that they can afford some of these prices that we have seen in the market which have been hiked by some largely unscrupulous individuals.”
Ncube maintained that they would be careful not to fuel inflation with the salary increases.
“The discussions we are engaged in, we are taking into account current inflation levels and price hikes. The new package will go a long way in increasing the purchasing power of civil servants,” he said.
Earlier, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Paul Mavima told Zimlive that a crunch meeting to review the eroded salaries would take place in Harare on Thursday.
“The pay has been eroded. The meeting itself is about review of salaries and wages,” he said.
Government workers currently take home USD$175 in Covid-19 and cost of living adjustment allowances and around Z$30,000 per month.
The Zimbabwe dollar has slid from around 210 to about 600 against the United States dollar since February, wiping off the value of salaries. Runaway price increases have exacerbated workers’ despair.