ZCPSTU president Cecilia Alexander said US dollar allowances offered by government were still not adequate

HARARE – Civil servants have threatened to escalate their wage demands to President Emmerson Mnangagwa if government officials under the Zimbabwean leader continuously fail to heed their calls.

Under their unions, Zimbabwe’s restive workforce has written to government notifying the authorities they were now financially incapacitated to continue reporting for duty.

The wage crisis has been worsened by a recent price surge which saw Zimbabwean dollar prices of some basic commodities quadruple as retailers moved to peg their goods using US dollar rates offered on the black market.

Speaking at belated Workers Day Commemorations organised by the Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Union (ZCPSTU) in Harare Friday, union secretary general David Dzatsunga said civil servants had also requested for an urgent salary negotiation meeting with their employer.

“Just yesterday (Thursday), we served notice to the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare of our incapacitation.

“The minister has our letter, where we notified him that workers are now incapacitated to report for duty.

“Incapacitation does not refer to a strike; it’s just the fact that the economic situation has gone bad.

“We have also requested an urgent NJNC (National Joint Negotiating Council) meeting to discuss the way forward concerning our situation.

“We have also said that if that does not happen, we need to escalate that by writing to the President.

“We are waiting for the minister (of Public Service) to respond to us then we come up with the next strategy,” he said.

ZCPSTU president Cecilia Alexander said while workers appreciated United States dollar denominated allowances from government, the payments were still not enough to meet their basic needs.

Speaking at the same occasion, Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) secretary general Enoch Dongo concurred, saying, like all civil servants, wages paid to health workers had been heavily eroded.

“Nurses earn ZWL$45,000 every month plus the foreign currency allowance being given to all government workers.

“Our local currency denominated pay has been eroded by black market rates, which means we now have to be paid in United States dollars,” he said.

In a communiqué dated 24 May 2023 and addressed to the Health Services Board, ZINA said nurses have almost become destitute because of their poor wages.

“We requested USD salaries long back and these were refused. Now we bear the pain of working in a health sector for remuneration in RTGS that is currently not worth US$100 when converted at the market rate, which is the rate in use.

“Nurses are currently surviving on an allowance, being the US$200 Covid allowance to meet all obligations such as rentals, school fees, medical costs, groceries etc. Obviously, this is not enough,” the union said.

Nurses also accused the government of threatening them with arrest whenever they demand a wage review.

“We therefore urge our employer to have a listening ear and seriously consider our plight. To refuse to meet with us is not the answer.

“To simply say ‘we will arrest you if you strike’ is not the answer. To withhold the necessary letters of good standing so as to sabotage our efforts to seek employment in other jurisdictions is not the answer,” said the health workers.

Civil servants are demanding US$840 per month for the lowest paid worker but government is adamant the economy is still functioning primarily on the local currency and cannot afford US dollar wages. — ZimLive

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