Zimbabwe civil servants plan 1 day strike

2012-01-19 07:38

Harare - Government workers in Zimbabwe will stage a one-day strike on Thursday to demand a salary increase and improved work conditions, union officials said.

"The strike is definitely on tomorrow," Tendai Chikowore, spokesperson for the Public Service Association told AFP on Wednesday.

"It's a one-day strike. Workers will wake up and stay at home. Or they can go to their banks and withdraw their money and return home."

The union wants across the board pay rises, which include a increase from $200 to $538  per month for the lowest-paid government officials.

"We are also demanding improved pensions and medical cover and allowances for workers based in rural areas. The strike is initially for one day. After that we will review the strategy depending on the government's response," said Chikowore.

The country's civil servants, particularly teachers, nurses and doctors, have been striking on and off for better salaries since 2007.

The situation reached a climax in 2008, when staff shortages forced state hospitals to close some units and teacher strikes left only 50 days of classes in the whole year.

Zimbabwe's economy has begun recovering after a decade-long downturn, following a power-sharing agreement by long-time rivals President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in the wake of failed 2008 polls.

Ghost workers are a problem throughout the civil service, with about one-third of government's 230 000 employees thought to be fictional, according to Finance Minister Tendai Biti.

Biti, a Tsvangirai ally, has insisted the cash-strapped government cannot afford to pay higher salaries. Mugabe has accused the minister of deliberately sabotaging the government by refusing the increases.

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  tendai biti  |  morgan tsvangirai  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa  |  strikes

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