Nomusa Mdukuzi Chronicle Reporter
TEACHERS piled pressure on the government yesterday, demanding a quick decision on a promised salary increment ahead of next week’s meeting between public sector unions and government negotiators.
Richard Gundane, the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) president and head of the Apex Council which represents all civil servants’ unions, said they needed a “comprehensive answer” from the government.
Gundane, who was guest of honour at the Zimta Matabeleland South annual general meeting in Bulawayo, said unions have forwarded their demands to the government and wanted a response.
“We had a meeting with the government on December 24 last year where we forwarded our grievances as teachers to the government hoping to get a positive response but to no avail,” said Gundane.
“During the meeting, the government had no comprehensive answer to the urgent review of salaries and all it could afford was to make reference to the two policy papers – that is the ZimAsset and the 2014 budget statement.”
Gundane said ZimAsset and the budget were complicated and thus needed to be interpreted to clarify how they would benefit civil servants.
“The two policy papers are broad and long-term in strategy and this means the much-talked-about poverty datum line-linked salary award may not be achieved,” he said.
Gundane said the contents of the 2014 budget did not capture in substantial terms, how the issue of civil servants’ salaries would be addressed and time frames.
“The sum of the statements provided for in the 2014 budget is that the PDL-anchored salary adjustment is not attainable in the short term. This therefore paints a gloomy picture for this month,” he said.
With schools set to open next week, the government moved on Wednesday to re-assure civil servants that any pay increases — whenever an agreement is reached — would be backdated to January 2014.
The Zanu-PF government has already pledged to increase public sector workers’ pay, setting a minimum of US$540 for the lowest-paid worker.
Gundane repeated calls on government to avail land for residential housing for teachers and appealed for rural allowances to be increased by 25 percent.
Gundane said civil servants were advocating for schemes that will improve their welfare.
“We’re appealing to the government to avail land for teachers. A lot of land is lying idle and we’re hoping that the government will provide a housing scheme that will benefit every teacher,” Gundane said.
He also said teachers should be paid according to grades and qualifications.