Retrenched civil servants cry foul over benefits

HARARE - Over 500 civil servants who were retrenched at the beginning of this year are crying foul after government paid them less than they had expected.

In April, government moved to reduce the national wage bill by retiring more than 500 civil servants without requisite qualifications, some of whom had served for over 30 years.

While government had promised to pay them emoluments in tandem with the number of years served, they told the Daily News that their employer disregarded this undertaking.

“I was paid $12 000 after having worked for 32 years yet my colleague here who worked for 12 years got the same amount together with others who have over 20 years of service  and we are wondering what criteria they were using to arrive at those figures,” Tonderai Chinyaka said.

Some of the former civil servants said they had not yet been paid anything even after their colleagues had since had their benefits.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said he was taking the matter up with government.

“We were approached by former civil servants from the Education ministry with their complaint regarding their terminal benefits and we are looking into their claims with a view to engaging the ministry because we suspect unfair labour practice,” he said.

“It is not fair that someone can work for government for 20 years only to get less than $10 000 as benefits. That is evil and should never be allowed to go unchallenged. So if they refuse to listen to us, we will approach the Labour Court,” added Majongwe.

In an April 3 letter to provincial education officers, Primary and Secondary Education permanent secretary Sylvia Utete-Masango, who could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print, made reference to the retrenchments which affected her portfolio.

“Reference is made to the Public Service Commission’s minute references C/C/8 dated March 19, 2018 wherein the commission approved the retirement of the initial batch of 139 members without requisite qualifications in terms of section 18(4)(e)(ii) of the Public Service Regulations, 2000.

“The minister has noted that some members without the requisite qualifications such as clerks, bursars, stenographers/typists, executive officers and other posts that are not of its current detailed establishment tables (DET), at head office, provincial, district and schools levels have been left out in the initial batch,” Utete-Masango said.

“Hence all provinces are requested to compile and submit additional lists of all staff members without requisite qualifications in the cited grades at provincial, district and schools to the principal director(s) finance, administration, human resources and discipline at head office by April 13, 2018.”

Meanwhile, PTUZ has claimed that contrary to his public pronouncement, President Emmerson Mnangagwa was far from being “a listening president”.

Soon after he was helped by the army to ascend to the top office in November last year, Mnangagwa pledged to listen to people’s calls unlike his predecessor Robert Mugabe.

Consistent with his pledge, he has been meeting various stakeholders, among them traditional chiefs, churches and others.

Seven months after assuming the high pressure job, PTUZ claims Mnangagwa has refused to listen to the country’s educators.

“…He only listens to those he wants to listen to but in our case as teachers he has chosen to listen to other people who are not teachers and pretending to be representing us and these are people in the Apex Council,” Majongwe said.

The motor-mouth trade unionist also railed at the ministry of Primary and Secondary Education for forging ahead with a new curriculum despite the concerns raised by PTUZ.

“Surely, the ministry of Education was bewitched by the dead. When will these politicians listen?

“When will ED listen? They lie to us that they are a ‘listening government’. If they cannot hear these constructive voices, what then should we do?

“Today.... we are getting paid peanuts because they listened to their compromised, moribund and out of depth Apex Council. Nurses are still smiling their way to the banks while we wallow in abject poverty. Surely, teachers have suffered enough.

“We are told of open door policies, which in reality are closed to some of us, which is sad. We also note again that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission wants to disenfranchise several teachers by sending them on election jobs outside the wards they are registered to vote. We are seriously worried by this.

“Our teachers with disabilities also are crying foul as their concerns were ignored by Zec too”. 

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