Unfortunate and unfair – teachers say as NSSA goes after civil servants ‘peanuts’ US$ salaries

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By Alois Vinga

The National Social Security Authority (NSSA) has tabled plans to deduct foreign currency dues from already hard-pressed and poorly remunerated civil servants.

Currently, civil servants like teachers are taking home net salaries of about US$270 down from US$300 following the move by the government to slap them with pension contributions.

Similarly, NSSA has reportedly ordered the Salaries Services Bureau (SSB) paymaster to deduct US$10 per month from every civil servant backdated to January 2024.

Sources within the government who spoke to anonymously said they suspect that NSSA has already started the deductions this June.

“I haven’t seen my payslip yet but I was shocked to note that my usual salary was US$30 less when I visited the bank last Friday,” one nurse said.

Another employee from the education department said unconfirmed reports indicated that all civil servants will endure two US$30 deductions before the authority reverts to the normal US$10 per month.

So dire is the situation for the hardpressed government workers whose fate has seen their low incomes being chopped downwards at a time when the cost of living in the highly dollarized economy has continued to spiral beyond reach.

Contacted for comment and quizzed on the latest developments, NSSA Spokesperson Tendai Mutseyekwa did not manage to email the requested details at the time of publishing.

However, the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Doctor Takavafira Zhou confirmed the developments.

“Yes NSSA will be deducting the US$ salaries backdated to January 2024. This is unfortunate and ill-conceived. The deductions are unlawful and a product of one armed banditry nature of unilateralism from the government.

“They are not a product of engagement with unions and therefore palpably unjust and a monument of Zimbabwean justice. As PTUZ, we call for the respect of tenets of fair labour practice and disputation, and reject impositions by the employer,” he said.

Zhou bemoaned the fact that such deductions are coming at a time when the government workers have not been reasonably remunerated as the government has not restored the purchasing power parity of their salaries to pre-November 2018 (US$540).

In a letter dated June 5, 2024, signed by the PTUZ Secretary General Raymond Manjongwe, the Public Service Commission was urged to cease the unfair deductions arguing the move is a total violation of the country’s labour law.

“We also want to reiterate that the US$ NSSA deductions are a clear fraud of the highest order. How can NSSA be allowed to unilaterally deduct civil servants’ salaries yet the same government is ignoring calls for reasonable US$ salary adjustments?” the letter said in part.

NSSA has sustained a prolonged history of shortchanging pensioners who accuse the scheme of paying peanuts in local currency.

Allegations of corruption and poor management among other indications of rot have remained indelible over the years within the authority.