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Zimbabwe sets pay deal with government workers

Civil servants late last year said they had no option but to stay at home because their wages, devastated by inflation, no longer stretched to the next pay day.

Zimbabwean flag. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

HARARE - Unions representing government workers in Zimbabwe said on Wednesday they had accepted an offer of higher pay as a provisional step in long-running negotiations.

Cecilia Alexander, chairperson of the Apex Council, an umbrella of unions representing civil servants, said the government would pay a cost-of-living adjustment with effect from 1 January.

"The balance of the already paid January salary and the new salary offer will be paid over four months starting February," she said.

"We wish to advise our members that as the National Joint Negotiating Council we have agreed to continue with negotiations," she said.

Civil servants late last year said they had no option but to stay at home because their wages, devastated by inflation, no longer stretched to the next pay day.

According to the pro-government daily The Herald, the increase amounts to 140%.

The lowest-paid government workers will earn 2,200 Zimbabwean dollars (US$137) per month.

Last week, doctors at state hospitals agreed to returned to work after a London-based telecommunications mogul, Strive Masiyiwa, offered to top up their salaries.

Junior doctors have been taking home the equivalent of less than US$200 a month. The subsidies will enable them to earn an additional US$300 a month.

A former regional breadbasket, Zimbabwe’s economy has been on the downturn for over a decade, battered by high unemployment, runaway inflation and shortages of basic commodities.

The country relies on imports mostly from neighbouring countries.

Hundreds of companies have closed down or moved abroad, and many of those that remain are operating below capacity due lack of foreign currency to import raw materials or upgrade machinery.

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