Apex Council calls for week long strike over pay dispute

Government workers union, Apex Council has called for a five day strike next week in response to their employer’s refusal to raise their salaries.

Tendai Chikowore, chairperson of Apex Council told journalists in Harare on Friday that union representatives agreed to scale up their strike and embark on a week long industrial action beginning next Monday.

On Thursday a national strike by Apex saw civil servants staying home to protest against poor remuneration. The civil servants are demanding a minimum monthly salary of US$538, up from the current US$250.

Government insists it doesn’t have enough in its coffers to increase the salaries. The Apex council however blames the stubborn attitude of the government for the miseries being faced by civil servants.

Thursday’s one-day strike drew a lukewarm response in the capital were some workers turned up at their stations. But in other towns like Kadoma, the industrial action affected government services.

Almost all schools were closed down in Kadoma and students had to be turned back. An editorial in the independent NewsDay newspaper said the outcry by the teachers might be justified by the fact that the unity government in the first half of last year alone blew US$40 million on State-paid travel.

“That the State can afford such extravagance is an indication that money is there somewhere in the coffers, but priorities are simply misplaced. The government is attending to the wrong things while neglecting bread and butter issues,” the paper said.

Takavafira Zhou, President of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) criticised government for being ‘arrogant’ in dealing with the civil servants. He also said the industrial action was hugely successful in rural and urban Masvingo province.

“There is lack of political will to pay civil servants by the government. They are saying they don’t have money but why do they continue paying 75,000 ghost workers,” he said.

He added: “Government has the potential to pay civil servants if they remove the ghost workers from their wage bill.” – SW Radio Africa News

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