The Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has described the eight percent salary increment for civil servants as a mockery.

In an interview, ZCTU deputy secretary general Elaston Njobvu said government was teasing civil servants.

“It’s good that government was willing to give that salary increment to the civil servants. But government could have done better and as a national union that’s what we feel about it and objectively, based on the current scenario it is not adequate. Based on the current economic status, that is teasing. Just look at the food basket in this country that is now standing a K7,000 for a family of five and six. I know of people that will earn K10,000 gross salary but take home a K4,000 because of the many taxes that we are paying. And this person is a teacher or a nurse, where is that money going to take them?” Njobvu wondered.

“These are people who have five or six children and when you translate that eight percent increment, you find that a lot of the civil servants only have K200 or even K150 as their salary increment. How is that going to help? What difference will it make in the lives of these people? This increment is undermined by the food inflation and in inflation in general, which is now standing at more than 17 per cent. The cost of every commodity keeps rising every week. Practically, the civil servants deserved minimum wages of K10,000 to be able to withstand this economic pressure. But instead of significant increment, they are introduced to an eight percent.”

Ndhlovu said government should reduce taxes.

“And this K10,000 should be in the category of diploma holders, I’m not talking about the general workers. The economy is in a very bad state even young adults are able to tell that things are not okay in Zambia. The civil servants, they need enough to help them during this period. When we look at what people have to buy just from this salary, you feel pity. We are talking about food, power, groceries, then transport money. And we haven’t even touched money for other essential stuff such as clothes. So one way on which government can increase salaries for all workers is to reduce on pay as you earn. In the past, we talked about this. For the past 10 years, every time a budget is being prepared, we have told them to reduce pay as you earn,” said Njobvu.

“Those taxes are just too high for the workers. The current threshold for instance is about 37 per cent, that’s for pay as you earn. Meaning that if my salary is K100, government will take away K37 and then I remain with about K63. That’s too much. To be quite honest, the Zambian worker is being subjected to a multitudes of taxes and that’s harsh. We don’t say this just to be critical of government but it’s the plain truth. If we were to count how many major taxes civil servants are facing, it is more than 13 taxes now. You recall that the civil servant received a four per cent salary increment last year, that four per cent we said that it was undermined by the introduction of the compulsory national Health Insurance Scheme. It’s worse this year and that is why we say this was a drop in the ocean.”