Zimbabwe’s public sector workers on Friday rejected a government offer to nearly double salaries for the lowest paid employees because it was not enough to cushion them against soaring prices, their union said.

Zimbabwe’s government has offered employees a “cushioning allowance” after the workers’ representative board declared there would be increased non-attendance from work, starting on Tuesday.

On Monday, the board – namely the Apex Council – said workers, who on Friday rejected a 97% salary increment, are now facing severe incapacity to come to work.

“There will be increased non-attendance from work stations as a result,” reads the statement, issued on Monday evening by the Apex council.

Annual inflation in Zimbabwe was estimated at 481.05% in November 2019, although government says only the monthly inflation, at 17.5% is a true reflection of price increases, Fin24 previously reported.

According to the Apex council, workers are demanding salaries that are equivalent to US$475 (R6 834) for the lowest paid worker. This would translate to Z$8 075.

This is four times higher than the Z$2 003 (or R1 711) offered by government on Friday.

‘Chronic incapacitation’

The increase offered, the workers said, does not in any way address the incapacitation of workers “which have become chronic”.

The workers demanded that government urgently move to capacitate workers in order to restore normalcy in service delivery.

On Monday night, it was announced employees would be awarded an interim “cushioning allowance” for January 2020.

According to the statement, this was guided by the capacity of the economy and the 2020 Budget.

As a result, workers will each get between Z$400 and Z$800, depending on grades, beginning on Tuesday.

Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube ruled out substantial salary increases, saying government has other pressing issues that require equal attention.

He said these issues included ensuring national food security, power generation, job creation and stabilising the local currency.

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