Council salaries cap vigorously opposed

HARARE – Harare City Council employees are up in arms against a plan by mayor Bernard Manyenyeni to slash their salaries.

Chairperson of the Harare Municipal Workers Union Cosmas Bungu told the Daily News the cut was unacceptable given that their members had already forgone a much-needed salary increment last year.

Manyenyeni is planning to slash wages for council employees ostensibly because they are too exorbitant and gobbling a significant chunk of revenue that is meant for service delivery.

“Frankly speaking, he is the first mayor to propose a salary reduction and tamper with conditions of service of lower grades. Instead, he should be advocating for better conditions of service for employees from Grades 5 to 16 who do the bulk of service delivery provisions.

“Last year, at the last Collective Bargaining Agreement meeting we had with our employer, we gave in to not receiving a salary increment, waiting until the country’s financial situation improved.

“People should earn salaries that allow them to continue working while also taking care of their families. As it is, employees in the lower grades have salary backlogs of up to five months,” he said.

Bungu said any agreement of salary reductions and increments should be done within the confines of the law.

The unionist said instead of coming up with “such retrogressive suggestions”, council should instead look into reviving the revenue base.

“Executive grades, whose conditions of employment are determined by the ministry of Local Government, should be negotiated with. They should be paid what is commensurate with the service they provide. They should not get astronomical salaries but something that is reasonable. While salary reductions should not be bulldozed on anyone, no one should be paid or even suggest to be paid $30 000 in this economic situation we have,” Bungu said.

Government in 2014 capped the salary and perks for managers of government-owned entities and city council bosses at a total of $72 000 a year, representing a huge cut for some executives, who were raking in up to half a million a year.

Acting town clerk Josephine Ncube declined to comment saying “there is a process that is currently taking place with regard to the issue”.

An audit by the local government ministry last year revealed that directors were still paying themselves in excess of $12 000/month each.

While trying to reduce salaries again last year, council’s top management wrote to Manyenyeni arguing that he could not slash their salaries as it would constitute breach of contract.

The mayor said the issue will be dealt with internally.

“The reality is that council is sinking because of our human resources costs. Ideally council salaries should be midway between the private and government sector.

“However, you find that we are paying more than the private sector and that is unjustifiable,” Manyenyeni said.

“How do we justify these hefty salaries to residents? We simply have no leg to stand on when it comes to what executives are being paid.”

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