Talks to end civil servants strike collapse

A strike by civil servants will continue throughout this week, after fresh pay talks in Harare collapsed on Wednesday.

The Apex Council, the flagship union that represents government workers, interrupted the strike on Tuesday as a gesture to negotiate in good faith. That decision though, turned out to be unpopular with the workers who ignored the call. Most of them stayed away from work.

The government workers union went into the negotiations demanding a minimum monthly salary of US$538, up from the current US$250. But the talks broke down when government negotiators insisted on offering a meager increase of US$7 a month, per person instead of US$288 they were expecting.

Takavafira Zhou, President of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that they couldn’t accept ‘such an insult’.

“It was so pathetic, government representatives said they only had a mandate to offer civil servants US$240 million, which would amount to US$7 a month per person,” Zhou said.

He added: “In our view, this falls far short of our minimum expectations because we were hoping government would heed our calls to improve the lives of civil servants.”

Zhou said civil servants vowed to ‘up the ante’ against the government and confirmed there was room to extend the strike beyond Friday.

Government negotiators are to go back to their principals for consultations and another round of talks with the Apex Council has been scheduled for next week Tuesday. Zhou pointed out that for now, the civil servants will go back to the trenches to fight for what they deserve.

“From the look of things and from assessments on the ground, there is room for extension of the industrial action from Friday. Tomorrow (Thursday), the struggle continuous unabated, there would be no defeat, no surrender,” Zhou said.

He continued: “We are sharpening our instruments of combat and from tomorrow (Thursday) onwards we are engaging a high gear and the strike will spread.” – SW Radio Africa News

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