Striking Zimbabwe Civil Servants Stage Protest March

The workers, who earn between $122 and $206 a month and want the government to raise wages to $600, downed tools on February 19, but the job action has been patchy with most workers turning up for work.

Unlike in the past where the police have violently broken up peaceful marches, leaders from the state workers’ union led more than 1,000 members through the streets of central Harare and presented petitions at parliament building and the offices of the minister of finance.

“We are trying to compel the government to listen to our demands. We are also scaling up our struggle in view of the threats from the employer that the strike is illegal,” said Oswald Madziwa, programmes officer at Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe.

Major unions representing teachers, health workers, state college and university lecturers as well as office workers, earlier held a rally where they denounced the government and vowed to continue with the strike.

The unity government formed a year ago to end a protracted political crisis says it needs at least $10 billion to reverse a decade of economic decline, but is struggling to get foreign aid.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said civil service pay takes up at least 60 percent of revenues, and limited resources make it difficult for the state to increase wages significantly.

If the strike continues and draws in more teachers and health professionals — who make up the bulk of the civil service — it would hurt efforts to revive key sectors that collapsed at the height of Zimbabwe’s crisis in 2008 when public schools and hospitals ground to a halt.

The unity government has managed to stabilise the economy, mainly by dumping a local currency rendered worthless by hyperinflation and allowing the use of foreign currencies. Reuters