Zimbabwean health workers returned to work on Saturday, temporarily halting a week-long wage related strike to allow the government more time to try and break the impasse with a better offer, union officials said in a statement.
The strike started on Monday after thousands of nurses and doctors rejected a 100% wage hike offer, pressing their demand for payment in U.S. dollars as the local currency slumps in the southern African country.
The government and health workers are at loggerheads after inflation jumped to 131.7% in May, a grim reminder of the hyperinflation that wiped out people’s savings a decade ago.
Government workers rejected the below-inflation 100% wage hike offer made last Friday.
“The leaders of the Health Associations … have resolved to temporarily adjourn the industrial action and request the healthcare workers to resume service,” a letter sent to Health Service Board said on Saturday.
Union leaders warned that should government fail to offer “meaningful” salary hikes within 14 days, healthcare workers “will have no option left but to withdraw service without notice.”
According to the Zimbabwe Nurses’ Association, most health workers received 20,000 Zimbabwe dollars ($53) a month. They decided to strike until they were paid $540 a month, the amount they used to receive in 2018 before the local currency slumped.