Zimbabwe government strikes pay deal with restive civil servants

Zimbabwe's economy is fragile and it does not have its own currency

The Zimbabwe government and its workers on Wednesday partly resolved a long-standing wage dispute which had kept the two parties at loggerheads for the greater part of 2019 when civil servants wanted their dues to be paid at the interbank rate.

The two parties agreed on wage increases ranging between 133 percent and 172 percent, putting the lowest paid worker on a salary of 2,500 Zimbabwe dollars (about 140 U.S. dollars) per month backdated to January 2020.

The highest paid civil servant represented by the unions will earn 4,631 dollars (about 260 U.S. dollars).

There will also be a Cost of Living Adjustment based on the total package, also to be paid starting February and backdated to January, state-controlled media reported Thursday.

Civil servants have been arguing that the value of their salaries was eroded the moment the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe decided that the local Zimbabwean dollar was no longer at par with the United States dollar in 2019.

The floating of the currency resulted in the skyrocketing of prices of goods and services as producers and service providers moved to retain value on their products.

The workers’ representative body, the Apex Council, said however that the package agreed on Wednesday was a mere 31 percent of what they had tabled.

Since civil servants had received their January salaries, the workers will be paid the difference in four equal installments starting February until the end of April, when another salary review is expected, The Herald newspaper said.

It said the negotiators meeting under the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) signed the agreement in the early hours of Wednesday.

Apex Council president Cecilia Alexander later said that the deal was a provisional agreement while negotiations continued.

“We wish to advise our members that as NJNC we have reached a provisional agreement as we continue with negotiations,” she said.

She said having taken note of the challenges being faced by members due to rising cost of living and the state of the economy, they had agreed to at least get something as a compromise for now while continuing with negotiations.

Alexander said they had pressured the government to pay the January shortfalls over three months after failing to agree on a once-off payment. Enditem

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