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Zimbabwe State Workers to Resume Strike After Impasse in Discussions

  • Jonga Kandemiiri

Apex Council Chairwoman Tendai Chikowore told journalists after hours of talks with state negotiators that her group rejected the offer from the government which she said was ambiguous

Representatives of striking Zimbabwean state workers and government officials met Wednesday for talks in the midst of a five-day national strike but failed to come to an agreement, leading worker reps to call for resumption of the labor action Thursday.

Chairwoman Tendai Chikowore of the Apex Council, which negotiates on behalf of public employees, told journalists after hours of talks with state negotiators that her group rejected the offer from the government which she said was ambiguous.

Chikowore said her council had asked the state for clarification of the $240 million salary increase it put on the table for the entire public service during 2012.

She said the meeting was adjourned to next Tuesday when a deal may be reached.

Meanwhile, Chikowore said public servants must stop going to work and urged the government to cease what she called delaying tactics.

State employees went on strike on Monday asking in effect for a doubling of their salaries, in the case of the lowest paid government worker, the monthly salary would go from about $250 to $538, equal to the official poverty Line.

Though negotiators for state workers and the government could not reach agreement, those for farm laborers have negotiated a 7 percent wage rise to $59 a month.

But General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe Acting Secretary General Gift Muti told VOA reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that although the wages were far below the poverty line, most farmers are not willing to put the rise into effect.

This is especially true of new farmers put on farms through land reform, he said.

Economist Prosper Chitambara of the Labor and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe, an arm of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, said neither industry nor the government are ready to improve living conditions for workers.

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