Civil servants have given the government a 48-hour ultimatum to resume salary negotiations or face industrial action by more than 230,000 workers.
Union representatives met Monday in Harare under the Apex Council and agreed to give the government until Thursday afternoon to open negotiations set aside two weeks ago by Labor Minister Lucia Matibenga.
The minister, who professed ignorance on the matter Tuesday, cited leadership wrangles within the unions as reasons for blocking the negotiations.
Apex Council chairman David Dzatsunga told VOA Studio 7 Matibenga’s office received the civil servants’ written warning Tuesday morning.
Dzatsunga said their negotiating team will be led by former Apex Council chairperson Tendai Chikowore.
The Public Service Association’s Cecilia Alexander, who is at the center of the union dispute, will be excluded from the negotiations together with the new members of the council which negotiates salary increases, bonuses and better working conditions with government on behalf of civil servants.
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe general secretary Raymond Majongwe said civil servants are now speaking with one voice as they want salary increases commensurate with the country’s poverty datum line currently estimated at more than $590 for an urban family of six.
The lowest paid Zimbabwean state employee is currently getting almost $300 a month.
Majongwe said the government can only avert the looming industrial action through tabling new salary packages and bonuses for its employees.
The government has already said it does not have funds to increase salaries of civil servants due to the poor performance of the economy and drying revenues in the Marange diamond field, Manicaland Province.
The government had expected to generate more than $600 million from the Marange field for boosting its coffers strained by a high pay bill and ghost workers believed to be more than 14,000.