The government yesterday offered striking civil servants a $240 million package, translating to an average increase of $7 per month for the lowest paid worker according to unions.
The offer was immediately rejected by unions representing civil servants who described it as “ambiguous”.
The estimated 235 000 civil servants, some of whom are earning as little as $200 a month, want their salaries increased to at least $538 per month in relation to the poverty datum line.
“Government has presented a resource envelope of $240 million as salary increment for the year 2012, an ambiguous offer, shrouded with many employment obligations,” the Apex Council, which represents all unions, said in a statement last night.
Takavafira Zhou, president of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), said the package translated to $7 increment for the lowest paid worker once unpacked.
The government’s offer was tabled at a meeting of the National Joint Negotiating Council
After the talks collapsed, the Apex Council, ordered its members to resume the five-day strike that had been temporarily halted to give yesterday’s negotiations a chance.
“In light of this development, we are left with no option but to return to the trenches until Friday 27 January 2012 as originally planned,” the statement added.
“Let’s continue the strike and turn up in large numbers. This effectively means the suspension of the strike is lifted until Friday, when we shall review developments.”
The job boycott that started on Monday saw most government schools closing. Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association president Tendai Chikowore said the strike would continue until government gave them what they wanted. PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said the government’s offer fell far below their expectations.
“They should come to us with money already unpacked like before. With this money unpacked, it is clearly not enough,” Majongwe said.
“There are things like medical aid which also need to be paid using the same money.”
Public Service Association president Cecilia Alexander said they were encouraging those who did not joined the initial strike to support the push for better pay.
The Apex Council said civil servants would go back to work on Monday next week and wait for the outcome of another meeting with government the following day.