Representatives of civil servants took their fight of increased wages to Tsvangirai on Monday afternoon who told them government was still broke.
“There was nothing meaningful which came out of the meeting,” said a source that was part of the 40 minute meeting by government workers and the Premier.
“Tsvangirai even said he would arrange a meeting with the Finance Minister to satisfy us that despite the sale of diamonds, treasury was still hard- pressed to give us a salary increase. The strong message that we got from him is that there is no money. We have now seen that
we are flogging a dead horse. We now see that this may not be worth pursuing. As experienced negotiators, we can tell where there is hope and where there is none.”
But Zimbabwe Teachers Association secretary general Richard Gundani, whose association was part of the meeting, maintained the meeting was fruitful.
“What we have achieved basically is the unlocking of a process of social dialogue which we felt was now a missing dimension in our relationship. We had lamented the dearth of information from government side particularly following the sale of diamonds. This meeting was not there to talk about specifics but was there to where this social dialogue.”
The meeting was also attended by Public service minister Eliphas Mukonoweshuro and comprised the entire joint negotiating council.
After government had repeatedly told its workers it had no money to increase their wages, Zimbabwe’s civil servants were now demanding part of the proceeds from the sale of diamonds by the country.
The country reported a windfall of US$72 million from the widely publicised sale of its first batch of diamonds stocks in August this year. The second auction was done in secret.
Government workers, who earn a monthly average of US$150, want their salaries increased to a minimum of US$500, in line with Zimbabwe’s poverty datum line.
A month long strike by the civil servants early this year failed to yield as government remained adamant it was not yet able to award them a salary increase.
Finance minister Tendai Biti, who early this year infuriated government workers by announcing a freeze in their salaries, said nearly three quarters of the country’s revenue went towards civil servants’ salaries.
Most government workers rely on petty deals and open corruption to cushion themselves against the country’s high cost of living.