More than 1000 disgruntled Zimbabwe’s state workers took to the streets today in Harare declaring that they are scaling their strike.
State workers are demanding for the salaries of the lowest-paid public workers to be increased from 120 dollars a month currently to 630 dollars.
The cash-strapped power-sharing government, which is still recovering
from a severe economic meltdown in 2008, had offered to increase their salaries to 122 dollars in February, rising to 134 dollars in April.
A petition was handed over at Parliament and the offices of the minister of finance. And workers vowed not to return to work before their demands are met.
The strike has paralyzed government institutions such as the courts and schools.
Oswald Madziwa, programmes officer at Progressive Teachers’ Union of
Zimbabwe said they are “trying to compel the government to listen to
our demands. We are also scaling up our struggle in view of the threats from the employer that the strike is illegal”.
No one was arrested today and police kept a close eye on the proceedings.
Since the strike began early February government has maintained that
it is illegal and would not hesitate to fire the workers. The bulk of the civil servants are teachers and health professionals.
But finance Minister Tendai Biti has in the past said civil service
pay takes up at least 60% of revenues, and limited resources make it
difficult for the state to increase wages significantly.
However, the strike has received mixed responses with teachers whose
salaries are boosted by incentives from parents and nurses whose
salaries were topped up by donors not responding to the call to go on
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC say state security agents and Zanu PF hardliners are stoking the strike in an effort to wreck the fragile coalition government.
MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said there is an hidden hand by “third force elements (…) We note with concern the politicization of a genuine plight of civil servant by our colleagues in Zanu PF”
Chamisa said Zanu PF’s hand in the strike was also evidenced by the organisations aligned to the former ruling party who were castigating the MDC-T over the job action through the state media.
In some parts of the country, the MDC-T said, traditional chiefs loyal to Zanu PF were threatening those who had turned up for duty, instructing them to stay at home until further notice.