Economics - Southern Africa - Zimbabwe - Employment - Finance - Demonstration
Zimbabwe workers set to cripple fragile economy
Zimbabwean civil servants who number more than 200 000 have issued a seven day ultimatum to the crisis ridden inclusive administration over salaries.

Zimbabwean civil servants handed the southern African nation’s government an ultimatum Friday morning to pave way for a strike that could further cripple an already fragile economy barely 24 hours after the breakdown of negotiations.

An Apex Council, composed of the Public Service Association, Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association, Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe and College Lecturers’ Association of Zimbabwe, met with government representatives over the matter on Thursday.

Government had offered civil servants a 24 per cent salary increment which they immediately rejected. The workers had demanded US$502 as the starting salary for the lowest paid government employee.

According to the government offer, the lowest ranked teacher would earn $241, inclusive of housing and transport allowances; up from $193. Transport and housing allowances were increased by margins of between $6 and $9 although figures of $45 were demanded for both allowances.

Insult

Apex chairperson, Tendai Chikowore, confirmed that the civil servants had refused the government offer saying it was "an insult”.

Said Chikowore, “We have rejected the government offer and the rationale behind the rejection is that the government did not take into cognizance the position paper presented by the workers.

"We wanted $502 for the lowest paid worker, but what we got was not even half of our demands equal to or the poverty datum line (PDL), (which is about $500),”

The civil servants, who are some of the lowest paid in the southern African region are known to quickly refrain from going to work anytime salary negotiations collapse. But in most cases they end up returning to work without any tangible government promise.

In Zambia, teachers earn around 2.2 million Kwacha which translates to $450 while in Botswana workers take home $640.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti in his 2011 budget said he had increased civil service salaries by 100 percent.

Soldiers on Tuesday received their January pay slips with slight adjustment with some indicating that salaries ranging from $193 to about $220 had been deposited on their accounts.


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