IN an unprecedented development likely to cause ructions at the country’s tertiary institutions, lecturers at the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) in Bulawayo have won a salary settlement that will see a junior lecturer pocketing ove
r $200 million a month.
Lecturers at Nust went on strike since last week protesting a decision by the university to appeal against a High Court decision which ordered that they be granted a voluntary arbitration salary increment awarded two years ago.
However, this week the Nust University Council agreed to pay the lecturers the new salaries and arrears backdated to 2003.
Under the new salary structure, a university lecturer will now earn $224 million a month from $48 million.
The new salary structure will see senior lecturers and professors at the university earning more than the $224 million awarded to junior lecturers.
The chairman of Nust Educators Association, which represents the lecturers, Bernard Jekeya, confirmed the new salaries saying the university had promised to pay the arrears in monthly installments over three months starting this month.
“The negotiations with the university have been positive and we have reached a consensus on the issues that we had tabled to the university and with the new tuition fees structure lecturers feel that the university will manage to sustain the salaries,” Jekeya said.
He said the university had promised to seek more funding from government to meet the new salaries.
“The strike was suspended on condition that the university will pay the new salary arrears for three months while it awaits further funding from government but if the university reneges on this agreement we will go back on strike,” Jekeya said.
Sources at the university said the new salary structure would see messengers earning salaries ranging from $30 million to $35 million while clerical staff would earn over $40 million.
The award of the new salary increments to Nust lecturers and other staff has set a tough precedent for other universities which are currently negotiating first quarter annual salary increments with their employees.
The latest salary negotiations come against a background of spiralling price hikes and ballooning inflation that has seen workers’ buying power being decimated.
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe has put the monthly family basket for a family of five at $35 million a month while the minimum wage is nowhere near that figure.
Zimbabwe’s inflation rate, at 913,6%, is the highest in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund.