STRIKING National University of Science and Technology (NUST) lecturers and non-academic staff claim Higher Education minister Herbert Murerwa misled the nation when he announced that they had b
een awarded a salary increment of 280%.
Chairman of Nust Educators Association (Nusteda), Elyween Madziwa, and Nust non-academic staff chairman, Readyforward Dube, told the Zimbabwe Independent in separate interviews this week that the salary increment amounted to only 30%.
“The minister misled the nation when he claimed that we were given a salary increment of 280% because we were awarded a mere 30% increment,” said Dube.
The strike has been going on for the past five months.
Dube said non-academic staff went on strike to force their employer to effect an arbitration salary that they were awarded last year.
Madziwa said it was unfortunate that Murerwa was playing with figures to create the false impression that government was addressing lecturers’ concerns when it was not.
“The issue is straight forward,” said Madziwa. “The government gave all civil servants a salary increment of 250% last year. Murerwa added 30% in March and turned around to announce that he had given lecturers a salary increment of 280%, which is ridiculous to say the least,” he said.
Nust, Midlands State University, and University of Zimbabwe lecturers went on strike last year to force government to effect an arbitration salary scale they were awarded earlier on. The government however challenged the process saying it did not have the resources or the capacity to meet the new salary scales.
“The reason why we went back to work is not that we are happy with the 30% salary increment we were given but we have put the strike on hold while we await the outcome of the employer’s appeal to the arbitration judgement that is due to be heard early next month,” said Madziwa.
He said if the Labour Appeal Court accepted the employer’s appeal the lecturers would go back on strike.
“Whether we stay at work or continue with the strike is dependent on whether the labour court allows or turns down the employer’s appeal,” Madziwa said.
If the labour court throws out the appeal then it means that the government would be forced to pay the lecturers the arbitration salary.
On other allowances awarded, Dube said these were insignificant.
“Housing allowances for the lowest paid non-academic worker were increased from $7 000 to $51 000. If you look at that in terms of percentage it is an increase of 630% which sounds like a huge figure,” said Dube.
The associations were also awarded an increment of 70% in transport allowances that would see lowest paid staff at the university get $155 000, up from $89 000.