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Zim Health Workers End Walkout - For Now

FILE: Health workers led by nurses take part in a demonstration over salaries, at Parerenyatwa Hospital in Harare, Tuesday, June, 21, 2022.

Zimbabwean healthcare workers halted a five-day-old pay strike and returned to work on Saturday, but union leaders warned they would resume the walkout if the government failed to make an improved wage offer within two weeks.

Thousands of nurses and doctors at state-run hospitals in Zimbabwe went on strike on Monday after rejecting a government offer to double their local currency wages, saying the 100% hike would not even compensate for annual inflation that jumped to 131.7% in May.

But the walkout ended with the return to work Saturday despite not achieving the strike's goals.

"The leaders of the Health Associations ... have resolved to temporarily adjourn the industrial action and request the healthcare workers to resume service," union leaders said in a letter sent to government's Health Service Board on Friday.

They warned that they would "have no option left but to withdraw service without notice" if the government did not offer "meaningful" salary hikes within the next 14 days.

Under Zimbabwean labor law, essential workers have to seek permission to strike, but the union leaders say they would not need to do so if they decided to resume this week's walkout.

Most of the country's nurses earn 20,000 Zimbabwe dollars ($53) a month, according to the Zimbabwe Nurses' Association.

They are demanding monthly pay of $540, which is equivalent to what they received in 2018 before the local currency slumped.