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Civil servants abandon negotiations, vow to go ahead with promised strike

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By Anna Chibamu


CIVIL servants have abandoned talks with government over their salary demands and say they will go ahead with Monday’s promised strike

Teachers, health workers and the rest of the civil service on Tuesday announced that negotiations between their representatives in the Health Service Bipartite Negotiating Panel (BNP) and National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) had fallen through.

Unions alleged government was making unilateral decisions during the negotiating process, citing ‘perpetual implementation of un-negotiated salaries and conditions of service,’ thereby diminishing the essence of the processes.

“The workers abandon the negotiating processes which do not uphold constitutional rights of collective bargaining as enshrined in the National Constitution Section 65 (1),” read their statement, released Tuesday.

“The team of negotiators from the government side do not have the mandate to make binding decisions on behalf of the government and their consultations take too long at the expense of the workers’ welfare,” part of the joint statement read.

“The federations are going to adhere to the 14 days’ notice of industrial action given to the government on July 4, 2022.”

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Government efforts to appease them, by offering a 100% wage hike, failed as they maintained their demand for US dollar salaries.

They are now demanding monthly earnings of US$840, up from US$540.

Healthcare workers halted a five-day-old pay strike last month and suspended it to allow negotiations but union leaders had warned the job action would resume if government failed to make an improved wage offer within two weeks.

Government workers are demanding hard currency salaries in response to cost of living challenges due to runaway inflation which is now more than 200%, a grim echo of the hyperinflation that wiped out people’s savings a decade ago.

Authorities blame the global effects of the Russia-Ukraine war as well as sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union since 2001 for the economic ills plaguing the country.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over from longtime leader Robert Mugabe in a 2017 coup, has struggled to end an economic crisis that started under his predecessor.