Health workers reject 100% pay rise, to continue strike – Zimbabwe News Now

HARARE – The government on Saturday made a last-ditch effort to avert strikes by its workers by announcing a 100% pay rise, which unions have dismissed as too little.

Nurses, senior doctors and radiographers have vowed to go ahead with their planned strike from Monday, and discontent among teachers’ unions is intensifying.

In an “open letter to the public”, unions representing nurses, chief medical officers and radiographers said they had taken the decision to strike.

“This is not a decision that was taken lightly”, they said, “we are fully aware of the human costs involved in any such action, but the conditions of service, in particular the remuneration of workers healthcare, are currently so poor that most healthcare workers can no longer afford the service they provide, nor are they able to care for and support their families.

A meeting between public sector unions and government officials as part of the National Joint Negotiating Committee ended in deadlock on Friday, before the government unilaterally announced the 100% increase.

Inflation jumped to 131.7% in May and a nurse’s monthly salary of around Z$30,000 is worth less than US$50 on the widely used black market currency.

Civil Service Minister Paul Mavima said the government would implement the pay rise from July, adding that further meetings were planned with workers.

“We realize the importance of the need for us to protect our workers,” Mavima said. “The government team will now have to consult to see if there can be a variation from what has been offered, namely the 100 per cent increase. All this will be done taking into account the capacity of the Treasury.

The government last reviewed wages in February, but the Zimbabwean dollar has since lost more than 70% of its value in the official currency market.

Unions fear that with rampant inflation again, when the next review comes around, their wages will be virtually worthless. At Friday’s meeting, they urged the government to pay its workers in US dollars, with the lowest rank receiving $540.

The government opposes the move, warning it would force the country to dollarize again as the finance ministry and central bank try to prop up the local currency,

Teachers’ unions have also warned they are considering strikes as the government faces a winter of discontent from its workers.

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