BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA/VARAIDZO MUDEWAIRI
A GLOOMY festive season beckons for civil servants, the worst since 2008 according to unions representing State employees owing to low salaries amid a sharp rise in the prices of goods and services.
Civil servants union representatives who spoke to NewsDay yesterday said plans for a cheerful festive holiday had been dampened by the high cost of living in the country.
Civil servants received their bonus in United States dollars last month, but the majority failed to access the funds after some banks compulsorily liquidated their 13th cheque into local currency.
Zimbabwe Nurses Association president Enock Dongo said nurses did not enjoy the bonus after some were paid in local currency, while others lost large amounts to bank charges.
“Looking at the November bonus given to nurses, there is definitely nothing to celebrate because a significant number failed to access the bonus in forex,” Dongo said.
“As a result, even if they get their December salaries, they cannot afford to buy clothes and other goodies for their family to enjoy the festive season. Government should give nurses their December salaries in US dollars because we cannot count on the November bonus.”
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) appealed to Finance minister Mthuli Ncube to consider reviewing teachers’ salaries with urgency.
“Civil servants are about to have the worst Christmas ever since 2008, and if salaries are not adjusted in January, it will be hell on earth,” PTUZ said in a statement.
“Mthuli Ncube, Public Service Commission, your employees are starving. $25 000-30 000 (salary earned) is a dog’s breakfast.”
Zimbabwe National Teachers Union Manuel Nyawo said adding to their misery is the struggle to raise tuition fees for the first term which begins on January 4.
“Our members remain very desperate. There is no realistic bonus to talk about. Prices have already gone up and the little income they got as bonus has already been spent on very few items,” Nyawo said.
“The disposable income is just an eyesore and we want to appeal to the employer to pay us more so we are able to join our parents in the rural areas and enjoy Christmas with them.
“Come January 2022 we need money for our children’s school fees as well as money for food and transport. The situation before us is very worrisome and action is needed on the part of the government.”
Civil servants are demanding United States dollar-denominated salaries but the government has consistently pleaded incapacity to pay them in foreign currency.
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