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Zimbabwe State Employees Threaten to Strike Over Low Pay

  • Gibbs Dube

Civil servant negotiators said they were angered by Labor Minister Lucia Matibenga's request for five days to respond to demands, leading to the tentative calling of a national strike on Thursday, January 19

Zimbabwean civil servants irked by a lack of progress in salary talks with the government have threatened to go on strike next week if their demands are not met.

Meanwhile a nationwide sit-in labor strike by teachers belonging to one major union threatens to derail the 2012 academic year at many schools.

Tendai Chikowore, chairwoman of the Apex Council which negotiates with the government on behalf of civil servants, said her bargaining group decided to raise the threat of a strike on Wednesday after Labor Minister Lucia Matibenga failed to explain the government’s position on salary increases.

Chikowore said the minister asked for at least five days to address demands and that agitated state workers talked of a strike next Thursday.

Members of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe continued to withhold their services in a bid to extract an increase in salaries to US$540 for the lowest-paid teachers. Civil servants are demanding similar salary increases.

Chikowore said the Apex Council has started mobilizing its members for a nationwide strike next week. "We cannot sit back and wait for a proposed Tuesday meeting with Minister Matibenga," she said.