BY Obert Masaraure
Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, ARTUZ is irked with the raft of measures introduced by both the Monetary and Fiscal authorities of our Republic. We are particularly angered with the policy directive of distinguishing the Real Time Gross Settlement, RTGS accounts from the Foreign Currency Account, FCA. We further feel robbed by the introduction of a 2% tax on all electronic transfers.
Teachers’ salaries were last reviewed in 2013 after protracted negotiations. The salaries were negotiated in US dollar terms. The new policy directive will definitely see teachers earning in RTGS terms in violation with the agreement that was negotiated and agreed in US dollar terms. It is against that background that ARTUZ rejects RTGS salaries as they were never agreed upon through a formal bipartisan negotiating platform. Our employer cannot just adjust our salaries without our consent. We still expect our salaries in US dollars until fresh negotiations are conducted.
Teachers and other civil servants have been contributing 7, 5% of their salaries towards pension since 2015. The contributions were in US dollars and the subtle devaluation of the virtual Zimbabwean dollar will erode their pension contributions. This is a repeat of the 2008 pension theft wherein our pensions were declared nonexistent after years of contributing. Workers have also been paying mortgages and various insurance policies in US dollars and Mangudya decides to steal all that with a snap of a finger.
To make our lives more miserable the government is also plotting to deduct 2% tax for every transaction. This again will adversely affect us as we don’t have access to cash and all our transactions are in the form of electronic transfers. This is another wage theft wherein the government is giving us a salary with the right hand and claims it back using the left hand. We reject the tax regime and stand ready to defend our wages by any means necessary.
It is clear that the incumbent government is making us pay for its recklessness. The government blew around 5, 5 billion dollars on excesses in a space of one year. Whilst these officials were chartering planes, driving fancy cars and sleeping in expensive hotels the workers were being underpaid. The workers were however saving the little they were earning. The government is now coming after our meagre savings after looting all national resources. They really take us for a granted, but they are in for a rude awakening.
We are aware that post these new changes companies can now officially adopt a dual pricing system one for RTGS accounts and another for FCA. The poor will be the worst affected. Tobacco farmers whose output is exported in US dollars received payment in RTGS and are now victims of the machinations of these thieves in government. The Social security of our citizens is being sacrificed as the elites are now pursuing their private looting interests.
ARTUZ reiterates its call for an urgent national labour convention to construct concrete intervention strategies to defend the working class.
We are glad with the progress being made in both our inter Union and intra Union consultations on way forward. This Red October will definitely see the working class rising in unprecedented unison.
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