Government dangles hefty allowances as protests loom 

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By Leopold Munhende

GOVERNMENT, desperate to avert a potentially crippling strike by its entire workforce, has dangled end of year bonuses as a carrot to stop the impending job action.

Unlike in previous years when the 13th cheque was calculated depending on one’s pay, government has also offered allowances on top of the double salary.

The strike was due to begin November 6.

Speaking to journalists during Tuesday’s post-cabinet media briefing, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said government was struggling to balance competing interests which required urgent financing from the national purse.

“Government indicated that it will be able to provide cushion through the payment of the annual bonus which would be paid inclusive of allowances, contrary to previous years when it was paid based on the basic salary alone

“It has been agreed government does not dispute the need to give a cost of living adjustment to its workers but was faced with various competing national demands,” said Mutsvangwa.

“These include payment of annual bonus that will take a significant portion of resources and due to restricted revenue will be staggered between November and December 2019 and also the need to import grain to supplement grain reserves.”

Mutsvangwa added: “Those are some of the various competing national demands, the need to support the presidential support scheme then government was also subsiding on transport through Zupco and the recent purchase of 15 additional public service buses.”

The Information Minister said government was now focusing on adjustments to be factored into the 2020 budget.

“The budget cycle was coming to an end and it was difficult to get additional resources from the current budget and therefore a review in the cost of living was coming in 2020,” she said.

Government, through the National Joint Negotiating Council, engaged civil servants’ representatives, the Apex Council Tuesday afternoon but failed to get them to call off the strike.

“Government team discouraged the Apex Council from embarking on their intended strike on the 6th of November and the workers again refused to respond,” said Mutsvangwa.