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Strikes Widen Among Zimbabwe University Lecturers, Other Groups

A new wave of strikes has continued to widen across Zimbabwe, threatening a repeat of the labor crisis which faced the government of President Robert Mugabe earlier this year at a point in the economic crisis when it can ill afford to raise wages further.

A strike by university lecturers has spread to all 13 of the country's state universities, though talks were in progress between university councils and representatives of the lecturers, said State University Union of Academics President Benjamin Njekeya.

At the primary and secondary school level, the Progressive Teachers Union said it has started to lobby the government for another salary review this month as the gains the teachers secured in February were quickly devoured by hyperinflation. Inflation in Zimbabwe was last measured at a cumulative annual rate of 1,730%.

Teachers earn an average monthly salary of Z$518,000, but the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says a family of six needs some Z$700,000 to meet essential needs.

Doctors and nurses in the public hospital system are also walking off the job again.

Doctors and nurses who were promised a 300%-500% salary increase early this year have recently seen their salaries inexplicably reduced by half or more.

Economist Anthony Hawkins, a professor at the University of Zimbabwe Graduate School of Management, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the government is falling behind the inflationary wave.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...