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Zimbabwean medical and teaching staff on strike over salaries

Zimbabwean medical and teaching staff on strike over salaries
Health workers led by nurses take part in a demonstration over salaries ...   -  
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Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Zimbabwean healthcare workers have embarked on strike to protest their pay conditions in the country's new financial crisis.

The health workers rallied with placards outside the Health Services Council offices in one of the country's largest hospitals.

Riot police were stationed on the hospital grounds, while patients were left unattended.

"Health workers are underpaid. They are struggling to make ends meet," commented Tapiwanashe Kusotera, leader of the health sector union.

Nurses in Zimbabwe earn 18,000 Zimbabwean dollars a month, which is equivalent to about 55 dollars (52 euros). Teachers earn about $75 a month.

"Our Health Services Board, which is our employer, and the Ministry of Health have totally refused to talk to the employees," said the head of the national nurses' association, Enock Dongo.

The government indicated last week that it would double the salaries of all civil servants, but Dongo said no formal offer had been made.

Teachers on Monday called for a five-day strike, according to a statement from a teachers' union.

"We cannot continue to be an embarrassment to our community because of poverty which the government considers part of our working lives," it wrote.

Zimbabwe's economy is in deep crisis, including a withdrawal of international donors because of unsustainable debt.

The invasion of Ukraine has worsened the situation, as Russia is the main supplier of wheat and chemicals used in Zimbabwe's agriculture.

Inflation reached 131% in May, reviving memories of hyperinflation more than a decade ago. Prices were spiralling out of control and the central bank issued a $100 trillion note in 2008, which has since become a collector's item.

The government then abandoned its local currency for the US greenback and the South African rand as official currencies. However, in 2019, the Zimbabwean dollar was reintroduced and has quickly regained its value.

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