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Heightened tensions as Zimbabwe civil servants threaten strike over June salaries

By Nqobile Bhebhe
Posted on Thursday, 23 June 2016 11:44

Faced with a growin liquidity crunch, the government moved payment of public workers – except the military and the police to next month – but the civil servants have been angered by what they deem to be a unilateral decision and subsequent meetings to diffuse the situation have drawn a blank.

We understand they are bitter we did not engage them when the decision to postpone their salaries was made

Cecilia Alexander, a representative of a public workers’ association, says what irked them more was the lack of consultation before the announcement was made and the lack of honesty from the government.

The announcement, Alexander said, was made just 48 hours after workers’ representatives and the government met and the issue of delaying salaries was never under discussion.

On Tuesday, civil servants’ representative bodies snubbed a crisis meeting called by Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira to tackle government’s failure to pay June salaries — amid fears the swelling anger could trigger unrest.

“Everyone came to the meeting except worker’s representatives, whom we understand are boycotting, saying we did not show them respect,” the minister said.

“We understand they are bitter we did not engage them when the decision to postpone their salaries was made, hence, they feel disrespected.”

Bizarrely, Mupfumira said she only heard of the pay proposal though social media and her counterpart had not informed her in advance.

“I have since made it clear to Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa that this idea of them communicating to the media without consulting us is not good.”

On Wednesday, the government and the workers reached a deadlock over pay dates, with the authorities maintaining that June salary payments will spill into next month owing to poor revenue inflows.

The workers remained adamant, saying their June salaries should be paid within this month, as they have obligations like bank loans and rentals to meet.

Public workers’ salaries gobble about $200 million monthly, which is more than 80 per cent of revenue collected.

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