Zim unions re­ject 10% pay in­creases

Work­ers de­mand US dol­lar salar­ies

Sowetan - - News -

Zim­babwe gov­ern­ment yes­ter­day of­fered civil ser­vants a 10% pay rise in a bid to avert un­rest, but this was im­me­di­ately re­jected by unions press­ing for US dol­lar salar­ies.

The of­fer came after doc­tors ended a 40-day strike for bet­ter pay. But teach­ers are also on strike, and other civil ser­vants have threat­ened ad­di­tional ac­tion. Zim­babwe adopted the US dol­lar in 2009 but cash short­ages have plunged its fi­nan­cial sys­tem into dis­ar­ray, threat­en­ing un­rest and un­der­min­ing Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa’s ef­forts to win back for­eign in­vestors side­lined un­der his pre­de­ces­sor Robert Mu­gabe.

With not enough hard cur­rency to back up funds show­ing in bank ac­counts, the value of elec­tronic money has plum­meted, prompt­ing busi­nesses and civil ser­vants to de­mand pay­ment in US dol­lars they can with­draw.

Zim­babwe Teach­ers As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Richard Gun­dane, who at­tended yes­ter­day’s meet­ing with the gov­ern­ment, said unions had re­jected out­right the gov­ern­ment of­fer, which would have come into ef­fect from April 1.

“The of­fer has been re­jected as a far cry from the work­ers’ ex­pec­ta­tions,” he said. “The ex­pec­ta­tion was that there would be a cost-of-liv­ing ad­just­ment com­men­su­rate with in­fla­tion with im­me­di­ate ef­fect.”

Thomas Mu­zondo, deputy chair­per­son of the Apex Coun­cil which rep­re­sents 16 pub­lic sec­tor unions, said an­other meet­ing with gov­ern­ment ne­go­tia­tors had been sched­uled for next week.

Zim­babwe’s an­nual in­fla­tion soared to a new 10-year high of 31% in Novem­ber after prices of ba­sic goods spiked, amid an acute short­age of dol­lars that has made im­ports ex­pen­sive.

Ear­lier, ju­nior doc­tors who downed tools on De­cem­ber 1, com­plain­ing about lack of drugs in hos­pi­tals and to press for US dol­lar salar­ies, an­nounced an end to their job boy­cott with­out a pay deal.

The Zim­babwe Hos­pi­tal Doc­tors As­so­ci­a­tion said the gov­ern­ment had started de­liv­er­ing medicines and other sun­dries in hos­pi­tals and made a writ­ten un­der­tak­ing to re­view salar­ies and al­lowances. – Reuters

/PHILIMON BULAWAYO / REUTERS

Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa’s ef­forts to win back for­eign in­vestors side­lined un­der his pre­de­ces­sor Robert Mu­gabe are un­der threat due to wide­spread un­rest.

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