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Zimbabwe Doctors Threaten New Strike; Bank Workers Give Notice

Resident doctors at state hospitals in Harare on Wednesday said they would launch a new strike on Thursday if Zimbabwean health authorities did not meet their demand for an increase in pay to Z$70 million (US$1,400) a month.

Hospital residents were out on strike for some 10 weeks from last December to this February. At that time they were demanding demanded monthly wages of Z$5 million and the government offered packages between Z$900,000 and Z$2 million.

But junior residents said they have only received between Z$17,000 and Z$252,000 a month, while some of them have not been paid at all. They added that they face high commuting costs because the accommodations at hospitals are inadequate

The doctors notified the government two weeks ago of their intent to strike.

Hospital Doctors Association President Amon Siveregi said that if the government is serious about improving the health care system, it should meet their demands as they are failing to make ends meet, due to high transport and general living costs.

Inflation in Zimbabwe ran at a 12-month rate of around 3,700% in April.

Siveregi told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that junior and senior residents in Harare and Bulawayo are also demanding higher allowances and car loans of at least US$3,000 to be paid in hard currency.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Bank and Allied Workers Union said it has given the banking industry and government 14-days notice of a strike because employers have not raised salaries by 165% as recommended by an arbitrator earlier this month.

The union said employers have proposed to raise the wages of the lowest paid staff, who now earn Z$86,000 a month, but not the salaries of higher paid employees who earn as much as Z$1 million a month, or about US$20.

Union Vice President Peter Mutasa told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he considered it highly unlikely that labor officials would meet with banking industry representatives before the two-week notice period expires.

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