Civil servants reject govt wage offer, strike looms

Civil servants rejected a 25% wage offer tabled by the government on Friday, insisting on a roadmap leading to pre-October 2018 salary levels and raising fears of a strike that could affect the reopening of schools next week.

A meeting between government and worker representatives was inconclusive on Friday, a civil servants’ union said in a statement.

“In today’s meeting, the government tabled a derisory offer of 25% with effect from 1 April 2021, against the 151% offer accorded to other sectors,” the Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions said.

“After the presentation, the offer was totally rejected.”

The workers insist on a wage structure that would see the lowest paid getting the equivalent of the US$475 (Z$40,000 at current rates) they earned before the government began rolling back dollar-based compensation which had been in place since 2009 when the country dollarised.

Ahead of Friday’s meeting, civil servants had threatened to go on strike to push for a wage increase. In response, the government threatened to withhold pay for workers who did not report for duty.

Since 2019, the government has kept a tight lid on the civil service wage bill, which now makes up only 40% of its total revenues, down from a peak of 92% in 2016.

The government’s latest offer would see the least paid worker’s basic pay increase to Z$16,752 (US$200), from Z$14,652 (US$174), according to a schedule shared by the unions.

According to Zimstat, the total consumption poverty line for one person was Z$5,187 in February.