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Published: February 15, 2010
Harare (ZimEye)- Zimbabwe’s civil servants have vowed to continue striking despite a declaration that the industrial action is illegal by their employer.
On Monday the Public Service Association (PSA) president Mrs Cecilia Alexander told ZimEye that the strike which began on the 5th of February is going forward until government addresses the workers’ demands.
“The strike is not going to stop. We gave government a two weeks notice of strike after a deadlock. If they wanted to do any interventions, they should have done this during the period. Instead they showed lack of seriousness on addressing the plight of civil servants.
“Dr Mariyawanda Nzuwah’s statements are nonsensical. He is trying to put out fire with paraffin. We are becoming more upset. Instead of pleading and sympathizing with the workers, he is ordering us to go back to work without any address to our concerns,” Alexander said.
Charles Mubwandarikwa a teacher at Harare’s Highfields Primary school said: “There is no way we are going back to work without getting our salary increments. The Public Service Commission’s declaration is inconsiderate. Civil servants are earning salaries that are below the poverty datum line and this is illegal because we are getting slave wages.”
Salaries below the poverty datum line are classified as slave wages according to International Labour Organisation (ILO) statutes,
On Thursday last week, the civil servants employer, Public Service Commission (PSC) declared the strike illegal and ordered civil servants to return to work saying unions had not followed required steps to declare a strike.
In a statement, PSC chairman Dr Mariyawanda Nzuwah said civil servants did not comply with Section 16:04 of the Public Service Act and the Public Service Regulations (2000).
He said according to the law, negotiators first engage each other, and if no solution is found, they can call in an independent arbitrator whose decision if disputed by the employees they can proceed and give a notice for a strike.
Nzuwah said this was not followed therefore workers should return to work as their continued strike is in violation of the law but unionists believe in the contrary.
On Monday union leaders went ahead in Chinhoyi with the country wide rallies to drum up support for civil servants to join the industrial action.
Rallies have been held in the country’s major cities where civil servants for the first time since 1996 have gathered amass to air their grievances and to endorse the ongoing strike.
Some civil servants have been reporting to work for fear of victimization but schools have been seriously affected by the industrial action as teachers have responded to the call for strike.
Civil servants are demanding for a minimum wage of $630 but government has said it has no money to meet such a demand.
Government has offered $122 for the lowest paid worker and $236 for the highest paid against a poverty datum line pegged at $500. (ZimEye, Zimbabwe)[Pic: File copy, Zimbabwe civil servants gathering in Harare]