Little relief after Air Zimbabwe strike


0

The government was forced to concede to end a four-month strike by Air Zimbabwe engineers, giving them more than they had bargained for but one engineer said this was not enough as all the gains had been eroded by inflation.

Air Zimbabwe had suspended 140 engineers without pay or benefits but the government agreed to increase their basic salaries from Z$200 000 to Z$430 000 a month, a 15 percent critical allowance and full back pay of all wages and benefits while the engineers were n strike.

One engineer said that this was “a good starting point” which should be open to continuing dialogue, since most of the gains have already been eroded by inflation.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 03HARARE135, AIR ZIM STRIKE OVER, BUT LITTLE RELIEF EXPECTED FOR

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

03HARARE135

2003-01-17 09:31

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS HARARE 000135

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER

LONDON FOR CGURNEY

NAIROBI FOR PFLAUMER

PARIS FOR CNEARY

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: ECON ELAB EAIR ZI

SUBJECT: AIR ZIM STRIKE OVER, BUT LITTLE RELIEF EXPECTED FOR

OTHER GOVT WORKERS

 

¶1. Summary: A GOZ compromise and end to the high-profile

strike by Air Zimbabwe engineers offers little spillover for

other disgruntled government workers. End Summary.

 

¶2. Press reports indicate that the four-month strike of Air

Zimbabwe’s engineers’ has been resolved after the GOZ

“intervened and met their demands.” Although Air Zim had

suspended the 140 engineers without pay and benefits, the

terms of the new agreement indicate that the GOZ has acceded

to or exceeded all of the engineers’ demands: increases of

the basic salary to Z$200,000 – $430,000 monthly (about

US$135 – $289 at the fluctuating parallel rate), a 15

percent “critical allowance,” and full back-pay of all wages

and benefits while the engineers were on strike. Tellingly,

one engineer stated that this was “a good starting point”

which should be open to continuing dialogue, since most of

the gains have already been eroded by inflation.

 

Comment

——-

¶3. While news of the “breakthrough” in the engineers’

strike might suggest a weakening in the GOZ’s position

toward labor in general, several factors indicate that this

translates into little relief for domestic sectors. First,

the Air Zim situation is high profile — the safe operation

of the national airline is a strategic issue. Every time

the safety of Air Zim equipment is called into question, the

GOZ looks bad. Second, the cost of a continued strike was

expensive. The GOZ was reduced to sending the aircraft to

neighboring countries for routine service, or hiring South

African or other regional engineering crews who would simply

refuse to service the aircraft and leave (as did the SA

engineers recently) if pay was not forthcoming. Third, the

money demanded by the relief engineers had to be paid in

forex, since the regional substitutes would not accept

payment in Zim dollars, further straining the forex

situation. All things considered, the cost of meeting the

Air Zim engineers’ demands was ultimately cheaper than

limping along without them, even though Air Zim officials

tell us they only need 60 percent of the engineers at

present service levels.

 

¶4. It does not seem likely that local employees or local

concerns — such as the teachers or nurses — will benefit

from similar considerations.   There is less immediate

damage if the educational system in underfunded, and the GOZ

is not sourcing forex in order to pay replacements.

Healthcare workers might benefit more from factors similar

to those affecting the airplane engineers, but not much.

The high-profile PR ploy of bringing in MDs from Cuba does

cost more money than increasing pay for local MDs (pay in

forex along with expensive “home leave” annually), which

could tip the balance for the doctors. However, the GOZ is

not really doing much to replace the other unhappy medical

personnel, such as X-ray techs, lab techs, nurses and

pharmacists.

 

Sullivan

 

(6 VIEWS)

Don't be shellfish... Please SHARETweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Email this to someone
email
Print this page
Print

Like it? Share with your friends!

0
Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

0 Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *