ZIMBABWE’S 230,000 public sector workers have been awarded a 5,3 percent pay rise backdated to January, Public Service Minister Lucia Matibenga said on Thursday.
Unions have been threatening strikes demanding that the lowest paid civil servant should be paid US$600 up from the current US$296, but the government maintains that it is broke.
The latest increment will hardly satisfy unions who are however hamstrung by divisions and lack of a common strategy to confront ministers.
Matibenga said: “Civil servants will get a 5,3 percent increment on their salaries, as promised in the budget, at the end of this month.
"That money will be backdated to January as it is the month the government said the workers should start receiving an inflation related increment.
"The budget passed through Parliament and it became law and it means we are obliged to be making this adjustment.”
Finance Minister Tendai Biti has indicated that the 5,3 percent inflation-related increment will push the civil service wage bill to US$2,6 billion – about 68 percent of the total expenditure.
In 2012, the US$1,4 billion civil service wage bill gobbled up 73 percent of the total budget – a situation which Biti warned was unsustainable.
A month ago, Biti revealed that the government was left with a mere US$217 in its public purse after paying civil servants salaries.