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Tendai Chikowore, spokeswoman for the umbrella union Apex Council/AFP


Zimbabwe unions appeal to political leaders in pay deadlock

Tendai Chikowore, spokeswoman for the umbrella union Apex Council/AFP

HARARE, Feb 1 – Public servants’ unions in Zimbabwe said Tuesday they would ask leaders of the country’s power-sharing government to intervene in their ongoing strike to double basic wages.

Tendai Chikowore, spokeswoman for the “apex council” comprising leaders from four government workers’ unions, told journalists that officials came to the bargaining table Tuesday with the same $240-million blanket offer unions already rejected six days ago.

“The resource envelope availed by the government totalling $240 million, which was tabled last week and presented again today, is inadequate and therefore rejected,” she said.

“This effectively means basic salary will not rise, hence our basis for no settlement on the package. Apex council will urgently appeal to the principals of the government of the national unity.”

Zimbabwe’s economy has begun recovering after a decade-long downturn, following a power-sharing agreement by long-time rivals President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in the wake of failed 2008 polls.

Government workers staged a stay-away protest last week demanding a $538 minimum monthly salary, up from their current $200.

The government’s offer, if spread among the 230,000 state employees, would give each worker just an $87-a-month increase.

Civil servants, particularly teachers, nurses and doctors, have been striking on and off for better pay since 2007.

The crisis peaked in 2008, when staff shortages forced state hospitals to close some units and teacher strikes left just 50 days of classes in the whole year.

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