TEACHERS and health professionals have vowed to go ahead with their planned industrial action today after snubbing a 100% salary hike offered by the government in Zimbabwe.
Salary talks between the government and its restive workers ended in a deadlock on Friday, with the lowest government employer refusing an offer to $36 000 from $18 000 with effect from next month. The government told NewsDay that it was concerned by the timing of the strike, which is happening in the middle of salary negotiations.
“I don’t know the timing of the strike because right now, we have a government team in talks with the civil servants,” Public Service Commission secretary Jonatan Wutawunashe said on Friday.
Educators Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Tapedza Zhou yesterday declared incapacitation, saying they had since notified the government. Zhou said after service providers deductions (such as water and electricity bills) from teachers’ salaries, they were left with peanuts as workers struggled to afford perennially rising prices of essential commodities amid runaway inflation.
While service providers and commodity suppliers have been forced to constantly review their charges to adjust to inflationary pressures, workers’ salaries have remained stagnant.
“Teachers are hindered from going from working, and we have already notified the government. Starting June 20 (today), we will not be able to go to work because we are hindered from going to work. It’s not industrial action, but we don’t have money for transport,” Zhou said.
“There is nothing we can do unless the government addresses the issue of salaries or arrests the galloping inflation. After service providers’ deductions, we have teachers who have been left with as little as $500 because salaries have remained stagnant.”
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Raymond Majongwe said: “The government has gone into overdrive deducting salaries for teachers despite not giving them a salary increment. Some teachers got about $1 700 after deductions. How will Zanu PF win the elections if they fail to pay teachers because they constitute a significant number of civil servants?
“We don’t know where the money is because they are not getting payslips. We are saying we are no longer able to go to work because all the transport money has been eroded by inflation. “Government must restore the purchasing power of the teachers’ salaries as salaries have been eroded by inflation.” Zimbabwe Nurses Association president Enock Dongo yesterday said nurses are not reporting for duty today.
“The government has made an inhumane error to continue giving the same salaries at such a time where the cost of living is increasing by the day. It’s not possible for the health workers to come to work for the whole month. They are incapacitated. We risk withdrawing labour from tomorrow (today) because the situation is not favourable,” Dongo said.
“They cannot work under stress. It means they are now dangerous to the patient. There will be a meeting at Parirenyatwa Hospital tomorrow (today), where we will announce the withdrawal of labour. It’s unfair as they are doing what they want with the workers. Even if we say they must provide essential services, how can they work without registering their grievances with their employer?”