Government workers in Zimbabwe say they are “incapacitated”, as their October salaries trickle in.
The first to get their salaries were the uniformed forces, followed by health workers on a go-slow, with doctors already on strike.
A basic middle-management nurse or army captain takes home an average of ZWL$1,500 (US$90, about R1,340) at the bank rate.
In a letter addressed to the ministry of labour and social welfare, the Apex Council – an umbrella body for all unions – said the government “continues to ignore the workers’ position paper”, which demands a review of salaries in hard currency (US dollars).
A fortnight ago, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) hiked its electricity tariffs by 400%, which are now benchmarked to the US dollar.
The Apex Council has argued that salaries should also be pegged to the US dollar, for workers to be able to afford basic provisions.
This week nurses sought an audience with their bosses and pleaded for a two-day working week – down from three – because they cannot sustain going to work. They have been advised by the council not to borrow money to go to work.
The council told the government that the go-slow by workers is not necessarily a strike, but rather an “incapacitation”.
Analysts say that if the government ignores growing discontent from its workers, it could degenerate into “acts of civil disobedience” as a result of widespread poverty.