Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT and civil servants are set for an urgent meeting to discuss the latter’s grievances arising from the high cost of living.
This comes amid concerns that while prices of basic commodities are constantly increasing in the country, salaries remain stagnant.
Basic commodities, although priced in local currency, are largely pegged against the black market US$-local currency cross-rate.
The exchange rate at the parallel market yesterday was US$1: $70 via electronic transfers and US$1: $45 for cash transactions. The official rate is 1:25.
These price hikes are against the recent Government and industry moratorium that prices should revert to March 25 levels.
Nurses yesterday received their June salaries minus $2 000 from around $6 000 in May while other civil servants received salaries with a difference ranging from about $490 going upwards.
In an interview, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Mr Simon Masanga, said Government was seized with matters affecting civil servants.
“We are going to call civil servants for a meeting to discuss what Government has to offer as stated by the Minister recently. We are aware of the high cost of living and Government is treating it as a matter of urgency so that we resolve this issue and other conditions of service,” said Mr Masanga.
“It is unfortunate that I cannot give dates but it will be very soon and we will be able to engage and map a way forward.”
Apex Council secretary general, Mr David Dzatsunga said they had already written to Government citing concerns over the high cost of living compared to their salaries.
“We had already written to Government and there have been talks from Government and they are aware of our disgruntlement just that nothing is being done on the ground to ensure our members’ issues are addressed,” said Mr Dzatsunga.
“It is an open secret that people are in dire straits. $2 500 is not adequate and where does one start to budget against monthly needs?”
He said the Apex Council was ready to engage the Government for the way forward.
The Zimbabwe Nurses Association president Mr Enock Dongo said their June salary incapacitated them from going to work.
“There was a slash in terms of the total package and after inquiring with Government we were told that this is due to arrears that were being paid. It was spread over four months from January. Now the four months elapsed and we are now back to reality and we always knew that would happen,” said Mr Dongo.
“How are we going to budget with $3 500 as we are the people going to work while everyone else is on lockdown and we are not being provided with transport.”
He said nurses would be better off with US$ salaries.
“Whatever Government will offer us in local currency will be inadequate as prices are going up on a daily basis. We are in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis and we do not want to withdraw our labour as that would be a recipe for disaster,” he said.
He called on Government to be considerate and stop taxing health care workers as promised in April. — @thamamoe