Teachers ‘disappointed’ with salary increase promise

Finance Minister Tendai Biti

By Alex Bell
05 November 2012

The country’s main teachers’ union has said it is disappointed with the government’s plans to increase civil servants wages next year, saying the plan will not benefit state workers.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti announced over the weekend that civil servants are set to get an “inflation-related” salary increment in January next year. Speaking during a parliamentary pre-budget seminar in Victoria Falls on Saturday, Biti said the wage increase was a top priority for government next year. He did not provide the actual figures for the pay hike.

“We have decided that there must be a cost of living adjustment for civil servants and it should be inflation related. It should come into effect in January next year,” he said.

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has now called for the increase to reflect the poverty datum line and not inflation. The union said Monday that Biti’s wage plans, “will not significantly improve the plight of the under-paid government workers who are still a long way below the consumer-indexed basket of six currently at more than US$568.”

PTUZ Secretary General Raymond Majongwe told SW Radio Africa on Monday that the “technicalities” of matching salaries to reflect inflation would only leave them with a an increase of roughly six dollars. He said this is not nearly enough, and the offer is insulting,

“We don’t want cruel generosity from the government. It is not like we don’t deserve this. We are opposed to anything that paints us like beggars,” Majongwe said.

Biti’s promise to increase salaries comes after he also promises to pay civil servants bonuses, amid fears the government did not have enough money to make this payment. Majongwe however said Monday that this was no reason to celebrate.

“We will never celebrate the payment of bonuses, because we are entitled to it,” Majongwe said.

He meanwhile said that it is only the end of Zimbabwe’s ongoing political crisis that will usher in real change for the civil service, saying their demands are getting lost in the ongoing “political bickering in the unity government.”

“There are lots of grey areas that must be addressed before there is any meaningful change, The political fighting must come to an end and a solution must be found urgently,” Majongwe said.

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