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Tue, 15 May 2018 13:06 - Updated Tue, 15 May 2018 13:06

Zimbabwe gov't offers 15 pct pay rise to agitated workers after strike threat

HARARE -- The Zimbabwe government on Monday increased its pay offer to civil servants from 10 to 15 percent as part of efforts to improve the welfare and working conditions of its workers, the state-run Herald newspaper reported Tuesday.

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The increment is effective July 1, 2018.

Apex Council chairperson Cecelia Alexander said the government made the offer during a meeting of the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) which brings together government and workers representatives.

Alexander, however, urged the government to further increase the offer so that it matches or surpasses the poverty datum line, currently pegged at 591 U.S. dollars.

The lowest paid government worker earns 253 dollars per month, and the workers want this increased to 720 dollars.

"The Apex council, while appreciating this gesture, is still urging government to improve the offer to a level at or above poverty datum line for the lowest-paid civil servant," she said.

She advised civil servants that wage negotiations with government were ongoing until such time when an acceptable deal has been reached.

The government last week tabled a 10 percent offer after teachers, the majority of the public sector workers, threatened to go on strike when schools opened last Tuesday.

The strike threat came after doctors spent the whole of March on strike demanding better pay and improved working conditions.

In April, nurses also briefly downed tools demanding better pay but had to rush back to work after government threatened them with dismissal after they had rejected money offered by the government.

As some teachers were reportedly agitating for a strike, Alexander said there was no need for industrial action because they were engaging with the government.

"Government is presenting its position and we as workers we are also presenting our position. For now we continue with service delivery while negotiations continue. We are now going with the new offer to our membership and hear what they say also," she said.

As part of measures to improve working conditions, government last week also rescinded its decision to bar teachers from going on vacation leave.

Teachers, who were short changed by the vacation leave ban, will be paid cash in lieu for the accrued days effective from July but in a staggered manner.

The government deferred vacation leave for teachers in 2016 as a cost-cutting measure.

In addition, government also revived manpower development benefits, a move which will see civil servants going on study leave using their accrued vacation leave days.

It also reduced rentals for civil servants to a figure which is not more than the housing allowances for the workers,XINHUA.

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