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State universities` workers down tools over poor salaries

Workers at the country`s 10 state universities have down tools claiming that they are incapacitated to continue reporting for duty.

This comes at a time when universities had reopened to make up for lost time following the closure of all education institutions in March after the government imposed a national lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.

In a letter to the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Amon Murwira, the State Universities Workers Associations and Unions, dated July 20, said efforts to engage the parent ministry on their plight had not yielded any positive results, hence the decision to withdraw their services.

The employees said they were struggling to take care of their families and lead a normal life.

“Prices of basic commodities have risen to unprecedented levels and most shops are demanding foreign currency, which we are not earning. Zimbabwe dollar prices are beyond the reach of many,” they said in a letter, jointly endorsed by Zimbabwe State Universities Workers Associations and Unions president Readyforward Dube and the Zimbabwe State Universities’ Union of Academics president Alois Muzvuwe.

The unions noted that they had succumbed to ‘high levels of agitation and pressure’ from its members to declare incapacitation despite efforts to engage ministry officials on several occasions.

“We wrote to the Permanent Secretary (Professor Fanuel Tagwira ) on the 9th of June 2020 reminding him of the Zimbabwe State Universities` position paper. This effort of engaging the Ministry was followed by a visit to your office on Friday 3 July, 2020, during which we indicated the need for our situation to be urgently addressed.

“At this meeting you informed us that efforts were being made to engage the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to address our plight, with us being expected to get feedback during the Monday 6 July to 2020 to Friday 10 July 2020 working week. We are yet to get the feedback. This correspondence to you has therefore been necessitated by high levels of agitation and pressure from State Universities` employees,” the unions wrote.

The unions urged the government to urgently address “the plight of State Universities` workers” who are now “heavily in debt and struggling to function”.

In June, the government adjusted upwards civil servants’ salaries and pensioners’ allowances by 50% and added a flat, non-taxable Covid-19 allowance of USD75.00 per month for all civil servants.

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