UNION leaders Tuesday suspended a strike that shuttered the nation's schools as civil servants demanded a doubling of basic wages, on the eve of talks with the government, a spokeswoman said.
"We have suspended the strike for tomorrow only, pending the outcome of the meeting with the government representatives," Tendai Chikowore, spokeswoman for the umbrella union for state workers, told AFP.
The government says it will announce a new pay deal for its restive workers at a meeting with Union leaders on Wednesday.
“Government now has a position paper on salaries and conditions of service for Public Servants which will be presented to the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) on Wednesday 25 January, 2012,” Public Service Minister, Lucia Matibenga said in a statement.
But Chikowore warned that the job action would resume if they are not satisfied with government’s offer.
"After the meeting, we will report on the outcome and issue a statement. If the outcome is favourable, we will call off the strike. If it is not favourable, the strike will resume on Thursday."
An AFP correspondent visiting government schools around Harare found only a few staffers and some pupils milling around, as more teachers heeded the five-day strike call.
"We were just hoping there might be lessons but the teachers did not come to class today," one boy returning home from high school told AFP.
Unions called for a five-day stay away this week, after a similar call for a one-day strike was largely ignored last Thursday.
Chikowore said the workers want across-the-board pay rises including a raise from $200 to $538 a month for the lowest-paid government workers, medical insurance and an allowance for workers based in rural areas.
The strike got off to a slow start but on the second day Tuesday, public schools in the capital were deserted with a few staffers in offices and senior pupils milling around.
But at government departments, work went on as usual with people queueing up and being served.