Ncube rejects public sector union demands for US dollar-indexed salaries

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‘We can’t afford that as government, we’ll go bust’ – Mthuli Ncube

BY TONY KAROMBO

Can’t do it … Finance minister Mthuli Ncube says they cannot pay US-dollar indexed salaries

HARARE – The government has rejected a central demand by public sector workers to have their salaries indexed to the United States dollar.

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said his broke government could not afford the demand, which has been made by all public sector workers.

“We can’t afford it. Where’s the exchange rate now, US$1:Z$15? So can you imagine if we were to multiply that (current salaries) by a factor of US$1:Z$15. We can’t afford that as government, we’ll go bust,” Ncube told journalists on Friday.

Last week, the Apex Council, which groups 14 public sector unions, said it had told the government on Monday that its 230,000 members – which exclude workers from the security and health services – no longer had the capacity to go to work.

Doctors have been on strike since September 3 after rejecting a 60 percent pay increase offered by the government.

Unions are demanding that government employees should be paid United States dollar-indexed salaries. They want the least-paid workers – who get 1,023 Zimbabwe dollars (US$67) a month – to receive the equivalent of US$475.

In shops, prices of sugar, cooking oil and maize meal are rising at least once a week in line with the weakening local currency, but salaries have fallen behind.

Ncube said the government would table another salary increase for its workers shortly, and would also be paying a 13th cheque in November.

“We’ll 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. Zimlive

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