February 10, 2004

Public service workers unions to contest wage freeze

Public service workers unions have rejected Government's decision not to award salary increases to their members this year and are meeting to decide the next course of action. Union sources confirmed that a meeting would take place in Lusaka with public service workers and affiliate unions to decide what action to take to press Government for pay increases. In response, President Mwanawasa and Finance Minister Ng'andu Magande have appealed to the unions to tell their members to remain calm because the wage freeze was aimed at getting the economy back of track. Mwanawasa held a five hour long meeting with the unions and explained to the labour leaders that Government wanted to get the country back on the International Monetary Fund programme.

In this year's budget, government not awarded any salary increments to public service workers until the country gets back to the IMF programme, the Poverty Reduction Growth Facility (PRGF). Zambia missed the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative completion point last December, leading to the country failing to access $3.8 billion debt relief because of Budget overrun caused by, among other factors, cited by Government, wage increments. (The Times of Zambia, Ndola)

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