Zimbabwe’s civil servants said Tuesday they had notified the government of their inability to continue reporting for duty due to lack of money.
The Civil Service Apex Council that represents all government workers except those in the security and health sectors, said it formally served the government with the notification of incapacitation on Monday.
The notification comes at a time when junior doctors at government hospitals have been on strike since Sept. 3, demanding a review of their salaries in line with the prevailing inter-bank exchange rate.
The apex council is now also demanding their salaries to be pegged at the prevailing inter-bank exchange rate, arguing that the current salaries they are getting are being fast eroded by inflation.
“In the notification, we clearly explained the situation that is obtaining, being the 3 September 2019 76 percent cost of living adjustment has all but been eroded by inflation and that our October 2018 U.S. dollar 475 salary for the lowest paid worker be multiplied by the interbank rate as is happening with all other goods and services on the market,” the council said.
The council said the notification did not amount to a strike, but nevertheless urged the government not to victimise any worker who fails to report for duty due to lack of money for transport.
“This declaration is meant to protect those of our number, who are the majority, that if at any one time they may find themselves unable to proceed to work because they have no money for transport, food and accommodation and more, “the council said.
The council stressed that government workers should not borrow money for transport to go to work, as it is the responsibility of their employer to adequately provide such funds.
The workers noted that their salaries have been eroded from an average of 500 U.S. dollars in 2018 to 40 U.S. dollars, which is declining everyday due to inflation.
“We are the only people carrying the burden of austerity as all prices of goods and services are now benchmarked to interbank rate. Our RTGS salaries are first taxed by the employer, then the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and more steeply by mobile money agencies. We cannot bear the burden of austerity on our own,” the council said.
The Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency said Tuesday monthly inflation for September declined to 17.72 percent from 18.07 percent in the previous month but the International Monetary Fund said the country’s annual inflation was 300 percent in August 2019.
The country in August suspended publication of annual inflation figures until February 2020, arguing that the move is meant to avoid miscalculation of the country’s inflation given the changes in functional currency from United States dollar to Zimbabwe dollar.
At the last official count in June, annual inflation stood at 175.66 percent, the highest rate in a decade.