Harare City Council employee unions, which participate in the council-workers collective bargaining process have expressed shock at the way Mayor Bernard Manyenyeni is trying to distance himself from the salary structure, saying his motives are sinister.

On the 29th of December last year, Manyenyeni addressed a media briefing where he blamed council’s high wage bill on an administrative decision which he alleged was taken by the former Local Government minister.

He revealed that council employees were overpaid and stated that a state registered nurse in council earns $1527 per month as opposed to $500 for government nurses and about $900 in private facilities.

He also said a security guard in council earns $1027, though their rank is similar to a constable in the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

The Mayor’s actions have therefore been condemned by several unions that negotiate for salaries under a collective bargaining system.

Chairman of the employee party, who is also the Executive Chairman for Harare Municipal Workers Union, Mr Cosmas Bungu said the councillors come to the negotiating table with a mandate from the mayor’s office.

“Councillors are part of the collective bargaining team and the Mayor is part of an agreement signed by the parties on the 8th of March 2015,” he said.

President of the Water and Allied Municipalities Workers Union, Mr Kenneth Chivuzhe said the Mayor is not acting in good faith.

President of the Zimbabwe Allied Municipalities Workers Union, Mr Tafireyi Murambatsvina and Chairman of the Zimbabwe Urban Councils Workers Union, Mr Daniel Usingarawe said the Mayor instituted an independent commission to look into the city’s salary structure but the he has not implemented what was recommended.

The representatives who were having their meeting with other members of the employees council at the Harare Municipal Workers Union offices, said council has been failing to pay salaries on time and is in seven months arrears.

Local authorities are supposed to adhere to a principle, which stipulates that 70 percent of revenue collected should finance service delivery, while the remainder should cater for salaries and allowances, and it is illegal for local authorities to use the bulk of ratepayer’s money on salaries.

Harare City Council employees who fall in grade 5 up to grade 16 level are represented by the employee party and their representatives, who together with a team of councillors and some human resources personnel negotiate salaries to be awarded to workers and their salaries are negotiated under a collective bargaining system on an annual basis.