Employees at the Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP) on Tuesday started an indefinite strike, demanding an accumulated 146 percent salary increase.
The workers claim the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) has paid a deaf ear to their queries on why they have been excluded from public service salary increments since 2006.
ODPP director Dye Mawindo confirmed his entire staff has downed tools and feared the strike may have â€œdire effects to the economy.â€
Said Mawindo in an interview: â€œWe have a role to play in the economy and when our human resource, which is the main resource we have, is not working, it can result in adverse effects. But I am confident this will be resolved soon because the powers that be are looking into it.â€
ODPP is key in ensuring transparency and accountability in the procurement of goods and services in the public sector.
A representative of the staff, Clement Banda, said the lack of increments has had adverse effects on staffing levels as some workers have left for other competitive employment.
The ODPP has lost about 18 percent of its staff between 2007 and 2012.
According to ODPP conditions of service, the determination of salaries is done through consultations between ODPP, Treasury and the Public Service Remuneration Board (PRSB).
Key factors include comparability with similar autonomous institutions in the public service, rise in cost of living and salary reviews in the mainstream civil service.
But Banda argued this has been ignored since 2006.
On August 20 this year, the ODPP staff wrote Mawindo, presenting their grievances and warning that if not addressed in 21 days, they would strike.
In response, on September 5 2012, Mawindo asked the staff to be patient, assuring that Treasury was looking into the matter.
Secretary to the Treasury Radson Mwadiwa confirmed knowledge of the matter but said: â€œWe are not the policy hold.â€