News24

Workers snub 'paltry' pay offer

2010-01-13 16:17

Harare - Civil servants in Zimbabwe, who earn only US$150 a month, on Wednesday rejected the government's "paltry" offer to raise salaries by a maximum of 14%.

After Zimbabwe abandoned its local currency one year ago, civil servants were offered uniform salaries of $150 a month.

The national unity government has offered to raise their salaries by $7 to $21, depending on experience, but unions say the increase still would not meet workers' basic living expenses.

"We are suffering. We are failing to send our children to school. Water and electricity tariffs are higher than what we are earning," Cecilia Alexander, president of the Public Service Association, told journalists.

The two main teachers unions and the public servants association sent a statement to the government calling the offer "inadequate, ridiculous and out of sync with the cost of living".

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

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

The unions said the government's stance was "a recipe for industrial disharmony likely to frustrate economic recovery" but did not threaten to go on strike.

Zimbabwe's power-sharing government formed last year to try to ease political tensions and mend an economy that had been wracked by hyper-inflation.

Most workers have found other sources of income, including street vending, to try to top up their salaries.