Vusumuzi Dube, Senior Municipal Reporter
BULAWAYO City Council workers have reportedly declared incapacitation and are demanding that their salaries be improved as a matter of urgency outside the approval of the supplementary budget.
The workers have over the past couple of months been engaging the local authority over salaries and Cost of Living Allowances (Cola).
Council management, however, has noted that it could not effect the adjustments before the 2020 supplementary budget is approved by the Government. Last month BCC proposed a supplementary budget of $550 792 328.
According to a council confidential report the workers demanded that while the local authority was awaiting the approval of the supplementary budget, they go on to improve their Cola because the workers were now failing to make ends meet.
“The crux of the matter is that council staff have declared that their earnings continued to lose value due to ravaging hyperinflation and high costs of living such that they are now failing to make ends meet. The union party had requested that a mandate be sought from the policy makers with a view to improve Cola . . . the union reasoned that while the need for supplementary funding was realistic, the employer could do something to improve the situation of the worker to whatever level possible in the form of adjustment of Cola, pending final approval of the supplementary budget,” reads the report.
If the local authority goes ahead with the facility it will mean its huge chunk of revenue will go towards workers’ salaries and allowances at a time when it is already in the spotlight with residents recently objecting to the 2021 proposed budget.
According to Government policy council finances are meant to be distributed as per the 70 percent service delivery is to 30 percent salaries ratio. From January to July 2020, the total salary bill has been 47 percent, which is $262 million of the revenue generated — $556,5 million.
Responding to the issue of most of the council’s finances going to salaries the Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube said this was inevitable noting that while their expenditure was controlled by their budget, it was difficult to maintain a salary line as per the budget as the standard of living continued to deteriorate thus the requirement to continually improve salaries.
“To be honest, it is difficult to maintain that Government stipulated ratio because on one hand we have our set budget and on the other we have to deal with workers who continually want salaries adjustments, and they will be justified noting the state of the economy. As it is, we are dealing with workers who have already declared incapacitation and we are working round the clock to avert a strike which would halt service delivery,” said Mr Dube.
Meanwhile, the local authority has declared that it would not be able to pay bonuses to its workers this year but will only be in position to do so in March next year. Reacting to this the workers have further demanded that BCC therefore pays them the bonus pegged at the prevailing 2021 salary structure.
“According to budgetary forecast presented by the financial director, Mr Kimpton Ndimande, the annual bonus for 2020 could be paid by March 2021. In response the union had requested that given the long time lax and ever volatile economic situation, the annual bonus for 2020 be compensated based on the salary scales prevailing in March 2021, in a bid to manage potential prejudice to the workers,” reads the council report.