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Civil servants seek Mugabe meeting, plan Monday strike

by Byo24News
21 Jan 2011 at 13:09hrs | Views
CIVIL servants are seeking a meeting with President Robert Mugabe after last ditch talks to avert a strike collapsed with no agreement on Thursday.
Public sector workers' unions met Finance Minister Tendai Biti and his Public Service counterpart Eliphas Mukonoweshuro to try and avert planned walkouts starting next Monday.
Unions have rejected pay rises of between US$6 and US$9 announced by Biti last week.
The salary review, rejected as an insult across the board, will see the least paid government worker paid US$128 up from US$122. The highest paid civil servant will be paid US$241.
Manuel Nyawo, president of the Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe said after the meeting: "We are in agreement as Apex Council that as long as government does not accede to our demands, there is no reason for our members to continue going to work.
"The government cannot rely on our labour starting from Monday because we have discovered that there is some kind of preferential treatment when it comes to the treatment of government workers.
"As civil servants, we are frustrated and devastated by the outcome of this meeting. What Minister Biti did was just to walk us through his 2011 National Budget so that by the end of the day he will come out as a smart man."
Tendai Chikowore, leader of the Zimbabwe Teachers' Union (ZIMTA) and president of the civil servants' negotiating umbrella body, the Apex Council, added: "This meeting was disappointing as it did not yield anything for the worker."
Biti told the unions during the meeting that the government was broke and unable to make any significant salary adjustments, said Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe president Raymond Majongwe.
Majongwe added: "Minister Biti only came to justify that the government was broke adding that anyone who knows where to get the money should show him so that he can pay the civil servants.
"We now want to regroup as civil servants and find a common ground to manoeuvre our way forward."
Majongwe raised the prospect of a meeting with President Robert Mugabe within days – a final throw of the dice to avert strike action which would be a major blow to Zimbabwe's nascent economic recovery.
"We now want to meet President Mugabe because last year we met Prime Minister Tsvangirai but failed to get any joy," Majongwe added.
Biti's US$2,7 billion budget announced last November includes a US$1,1 billion allocation for salaries, up from US$913 for 2010. Biti has said the civil service pay bill is "not normal economics".
"Normal economics demand that only 30 percent of the budget be channelled to salaries as per the World Bank standards. We are outperforming World Bank countries that have a much higher level of domestic product," Biti said last year, in response to pressure from civil servants.
He added: "The current large public sector wage bill has a demonstration impact on private sector sage levels leading to an overall contagious and unsustainable wage spiral out of line with the size of the economy.
"In the case of some public enterprises and local authorities, high wage levels have left very little resources available for efficient and adequate delivery of core services in the areas of health, education, water and sanitation, power as well as maintenance of infrastructure."

Source - Byo24News