26 September 2023

ZIMBABWE: Restive workers get their dollar deal

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Zimbabwe’s Government has backed down and agreed to pay United States dollar-denominated bonuses to its restive Public Servants in an effort to avert widespread industrial action.

Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, George Guvamatanga said the Government’s end of year bonus (the so-called 13th monthly cheque) would be paid in US dollars but capped at US$700 (A$961).

“For those with pay scales exceeding that figure, the balance will be payable in local currency,” Mr Guvamatanga (pictured) said.

“The timing of the payments will be staggered, with the uniformed forces and health sector being paid in November, while the other sectors will be paid in December,” he said.

However, some public sector unions immediately attacked the bonus as “paltry” and suggested it would not be enough to avert a strike.

President of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Takavafira Zhou said the announcement smacked of a campaign gimmick, given that an election would be held in 2023.

“The struggle has never been a struggle over a bonus,” Mr Zhou said.

“It has always been a struggle over restoration of purchasing power parity of teachers pegged at US$520 (A$714) a month for every month, so anything less than that is a charade and an issue of misrepresentation,” he said.

President of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association, Enock Dondo wondered where the US dollars would come from “because banks have no money”.

However, Secretary-General of the Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions, David Dzatsunga said it was “an exciting development, speaking to our long-term demands that workers must be paid in US dollars because the local currency is worthless”.

In a separate development, the Government claimed that almost 99 per cent of its 300,000-strong workforce have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Minister for the Public Service, Paul Mavima said the vaccine uptake was testament to the efficacy of the Government’s ‘no work, no pay’ policy.

Harare, 16 November 2021

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