Zimbabwe Civil Servants Give Government Ultimatum

Harare,- Zimbabwean civil servants on Wednesday gave the government of national unity (GNU) fourteen (14) days to increase their salaries and other working conditions or risk a crippling industrial strike.

In a historic press conference featuring the Public Service Association (PSA), the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) and the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PUTZ), the civil servants trade unions said they were disgusted by a government offer of US$236 a month for the highest paid worker.

The three unions, showing rare unity after years of acrimony, said they were rejecting the government offer made on 12 January 2010 in Harare during the bargaining exercise of the National Joint Negotiating Council.

“The Civil Servants in Zimbabwe, comprising Educators and the rest of the civil servants, register their displeasure and utter dismay at the paltry offer the government of Zimbabwe has put forward on 12 January at the negotiating table for 2010 salary review,” Tendai Chikowore, the ZIMTA president, told journalists at a press conference in Harare.

“The offer is inadequate, ridiculous and out of sync with the cost of living and therefore unacceptable. Civil servants therefore warn the government that its stance is a recipe for industrial disharmony likely to frustrate economic recovery,” said Chikowore.

The lowest paid civil servants, among them teachers, earn US$155 a month.

In their demands to government the civil servants have stated that they want the least paid civil servant to earn US$630, comprising of a basic entry salary of US$460, a housing allowance of US$120 and a transport allowance of US$50.

The government offer excluded housing and transport allowances. The Poverty Dictum Line is estimated at about US$500.

Chikowore said civil servants demanded an urgent redress of the current situation before crippling work stoppages.

“Government should be warned that civil servants may deliver half baked services that may ultimately compromise the government processes.

Meanwhile, we are giving the leadership of this country 14 days to intervene on this issue as a matter of urgency before it blossoms into conflict,” she said.

Takavafira Zhou, the president of PUTZ, and Cecilia Alexander, the president of PSA, endorsed the statement read by Chikowore.

At its inception in February 2009, the government paid all civil servants an allowance of US$100 a month.

The allowances were later changed to a monthly salary, which averages about US$155.