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Zimbabwe Civil Servants Threaten Strike Over Pay

Published on Thursday 14th January 2010 Zimbabwe Civil Servants Threaten Strike Over Pay

Civil servants have given the coalition government 14 days to address their wage demands or face a crippling public sector strike. Three unions representing the bulk of the civil servants held a joint press conference in Harare and made it clear they would strike if their demand for a minimum wage of US$630 per month was not met. They also rejected a government offer of US$236 per month saying this was a 'paltry offer.'

Cecilia Alexander, President of the Public Service Association, an umbrella body for all civil servants said, "Our members are suffering, we cannot pay our bills, the tariffs are higher than our wages." The bulk of the civil service is made up of teachers and health professionals, who include nurses and doctors. The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), Zimbabwe Teachers Association and the Public Service Association said the government offer was 'inadequate, ridiculous and out of sync with the cost of living.'

Last week the PTUZ said their members would go on strike if their wage demands were not met. The unions President Takavafira Zhou said ever since Finance Minister Tendai Biti presented his budget in December last year, there had been no word on how much the teachers would earn. Zhou said they had given the inclusive government enough time to work on their remuneration and expected their salaries to at least match the poverty datum line which he said was US$600.

Although schools opened on Tuesday and most teachers reported for duty, reports say they were not teaching in protest at the slow salary negotiations. The government meanwhile says it does not have the resources to meet the salary demands coming from the civil servants. Finance Minister Biti said that 60 percent of government revenue was taken up by the wage bill alone.

Meanwhile pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) took to the streets of Bulawayo on Wednesday to protest about the state of education in Zimbabwe. The group converged on the Mhlahlandlela Government complex to hand over a WOZA report on the education system in Zimbabwe entitled - Looking Back to look Forward. As usual, a group of 12 policemen dispersed the marchers before they could hand over their petition. No arrests were made.

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