Civil servants turn to loan sharks for transport money

THE Apex Council has said it will meet tomorrow to discuss pressing issues pertaining to the welfare of civil servants in the country, chief among them, salaries.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Apex Council president Mrs Cecilia Alexander said the council was scheduled to meet tomorrow to discuss, among other issues, the welfare of civil servants and an update on salary negotiations.

The Apex Council meeting comes after Government said it is lining up another salary adjustment for civil servants to cushion them from the unwarranted price increases that businesses continue to effect.

In an interview with journalists at the National Sports Stadium on Friday on the sidelines of the Sadc day of solidarity against sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said: “We are going to have another adjustment as I speak, then we are going to pay the bonus in November. So we are doing our best in gradually supporting civil servants,” he said.

It could not be immediately established when the latest increment will come into effect.
The lowest paid civil servant presently earns $1 023, which their representatives say has since been overtaken by inflation resulting in some allegedly having challenges reporting for duty.

Once the salary adjustment comes into force, it will be the third this year alone after reviews in April and July.
Asked if Government was considering pegging civil servants’ salaries to the interbank rate for foreign currency as has been suggested by employee representatives, Prof Ncube said there was no money to sustain that.

“We cannot afford it. Where is the exchange rate now, US$1:$15? So can you imagine if we were to multiply that (the current salary) by a factor of US$1:$15.

“We cannot afford that as Government, we will go bust. So we will do it in a gradual way, I think we have done our best. We had an adjustment in April, another adjustment in July, another is coming, then we have the bonus in November,” he said.

Yesterday, Mrs Alexander said they were still waiting to hear from Government regarding the latest salary adjustment.

“We are still waiting to hear from Government following our last meeting where an agreement was reached on 100 percent bonus pay-outs for civil servants, inclusive of allowances. However, we tended in our submissions that the bonus had to be calculated on a figure better than the current salaries that civil servants are getting as they have been eroded by inflation,” she said.

Mrs Alexander said the civil servants’ situation was dire and appealed to Government for a swift response to their plight.

“As you may already know, we declared incapacitation and civil servants who are failing to make ends meet are reporting to their work stations twice a week,” she said.

“We have received reports that some civil servants are going as far as borrowing money from loan sharks just to get bus fare to get to work, out of fear of victimisation. It is not right, we urge those that cannot sustain themselves to let their employers know that they are incapacitated”.

Last week, Government resolved to pay civil servants full bonuses for 2019 pegged on gross income, a departure from last year when the 13th cheque was based on pensionable salaries only.

Last year civil servants expressed anger after they were paid a bonus which only reflected the basic salary without allowances being factored in.
Government has been negotiating with civil servants through their umbrella body, the Joint Negotiation Council, for a review of conditions of service after their salaries were eroded by inflation.

The Apex Council says the 76 percent cost of living adjustment (Cola) negotiated last month has been wiped off by inflation.
The 100 percent bonus will therefore come in handy.

– Chronicle

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