Civil servants yesterday gave the government a two-week ultimatum to address their salary grievances or face a crippling strike likely to paralyse public services, especially the health and education sectors.
Public sector workers have been demanding to be paid in United States dollars citing continued depreciation of local currency, and high inflation, which rose to 191,7% in June.
Workers say they are being forced to source for US dollars from the parallel market to pay rentals and other expenses that are now being charged in foreign currency while the government is insisting on paying them in local currency.
Civil servants are, however, allowed to withdraw US$100 from their salaries and are given another US$75 as COVID-19 allowances.
In a notice dated July 4, directed to the Public Service Commission (PSC), the unions said they were finding it difficult to make ends meet with the current inflation rates.
“The Public Service Association, the Federation of Zimbabwe Educators Unions, the Federation of Educators Unions of Zimbabwe and Nurses Federations of Zimbabwe hereby give notice of service wide industrial action within 14 days of the date of this notice,” read the notice.
“Be advised that the industrial action hereby notified is in respect of a long overdue cost of living adjustment that speaks to the food basket that now stands at $114 000 against the latest adjustment to ZWL$36 000 for the lowest paid worker.”
Zimbabwe Nurses Association president Enock Dongo said: “We are together with all other civil servants to demand civil servants wages. Government should take the notice seriously. The 100% that they tried to offer us was far short. They have to address our grievances soon, and we are not turning back,” Dongo said.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure said failure to comply with their demand for United States dollar salaries and improved working conditions would force them to embark on a collective job action as provided for under section 65(3) of the Constitution.
Last month, workers gave the government a one-week ultimatum to address their salary grievances saying they were tired of unfulfilled promises.
They went on a one week strike and the government gave them a 100% salary increase, which they rejected.
Nurses also went on strike but returned to work to allow for negotiations.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare secretary Simon Masanga yesterday told NewsDay that negotiations with civil servants were going on.
“As far as we are concerned as a government, we have agreed with the workers’ team led by Ms Cecilia Alexander that we are having a meeting of the National Joint Negotiating Council on Monday next week to discuss the issues and conditions of civil servants. I don’t want to say much, all I can say is that it’s a continuation of negotiations,” Masanga said.-Newsday