Zimbabwe state workers go on strike for higher pay

21:23, February 08, 2010      

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A nationwide strike by state workers in Zimbabwe went on strike for higher pay on Monday, with some workers in the capital Harare reporting for duty mainly to gauge the situation on the ground.

The Public Service Association, a union of government office workers, confirmed the development to Xinhua, but claiming that those who reported for work did so out of sheer ignorance of the strike.

"Yes some have gone to work but they are being told of the strike. They were not aware of the strike situation. We expect a 100 percent cover by Wednesday," said PSA chief executive Emmanuel Tichareva.

He said the civil service leadership was in Bulawayo on Monday for a "big" rally of the civil servants. A similar rally was held in central Harare on Friday, where the decision to down tools was taken.

A government worker told Xinhua that she was at work to get a clear indication on the course of the strike.

"I had to come to work so that I know the direction this strike is taking. I was afraid of staying at home without knowing what my colleagues are up to," she said.

A snap survey at some of the government buildings in the capital showed that some civil servants were working while some buildings, such as the High Court, were closed. An official manning the entrance was turning away visitors, saying only administrators were present.

There were also reports that most schools in high density areas turned away children.

"My son returned home from school before I even left for work this morning," said a construction worker in the capital.

The civil servants reached the decision to down tools on Friday after several meetings with the government failed to yield any positive result.

The workers are demanding an increase in salaries from an average 150 U. S. dollars per month to about 630 dollars.

A last minute meeting between the government and civil servants representatives on Friday afternoon failed to ward off the strike as workers rejected minimal changes made to their salaries.

The government had offered a minimum salary of 137 dollars and a top proposal of 248 dollars backdated to January. It also offered an additional 15 dollars in transport and housing allowances with immediate effect rather than April as initially planned.

Zimbabwe's inclusive government formed last year has failed to mobilize adequate financial resources to meet wage demands by civil servants.

The salary demands would put the wage bill at 148 million dollars per month against the projected monthly revenue of 120 million in 2010.

Source: Xinhua
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