Workers table fresh demands

RUTENDO RORI

Workers have tabled fresh demands for government and business to pay them in South African rand if remunerating them in US dollars is posing some challenges, Business Times can report.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Peter Mutasa said the workers could not continue chasing a salary figure in Zimbabwe dollar, which was inflationary but can accept, a salary in rand, which Mutasa said was more stable than the Zimbabwe dollar.  The rand, Mutasa said has fewer restrictions as compared to US dollar.

ZCTU boss Peter Mutasa

Workers have been pushing government to peg their salaries to what they were in October 2018 in US dollar terms and review the minimum wage in line with the poverty datum line.

On average, the lowest paid worker was getting US$475 a month in October 2018.

Government, however, has refused to budge.

 “If US dollars are posing some challenges, we have given the government and business a position paper that we should go for the South African Rand. It has got a lot of advantages in terms of it being the main trading partner with Zimbabwe.

The rand can be readily available in this country. It is a stable currency and also there are fewer restrictions with the rand. So we need to have wages back to what they were in October 2018,” Mutasa said.

He said workers have made it clear to the government that “we cannot continue to chase around figures in Zimbabwe dollars because that is inflationary”. 

“It is not possible to stabilise the economy. It is not possible for economic recovery, for us to be chasing around the inflation rate. What is needed is to revert back to dollarisation and we can start with where we were in October 2018, have prices of goods and services back to where they were in October 2018, in US dollars,” Mutasa said.

“A teacher must earn US$520 and the least paid must earn US$475. It is below the current poverty datum line but it may assist workers to cater for the basics that they are failing to access now and it also ensures that there is increased domestic adequate demand. Without that, companies are going to fall; jobs are going to be low.”

He also Zimbabwe still has a minimum wage at ZWL$2 549 against a poverty datum line of $39 000 which means workers are earning 6% of the poverty datum line.

“The majority of workers are earning around ZWL$10 000 which is just a fraction of the poverty datum line. This means that almost all workers have been impoverished and this is a result of government policies and exploitative nature of employers to people. This is an unsustainable situation or condition that all stakeholders must quickly rectify. There is nowhere in the world that workers receive something good from employers or the government on a silver platter. Workers must wake up, come together and use their collective power to demand fairness from both government and business.”

President Emmerson Mnangagwa said last week admitted that the salary paid civil servants is low and his administration was exploring ways to improve the welfare of government employees.

In a letter dated June 2, 2021 to Zimta CEO Sifiso Ndlovu, Mnangagwa said he had directed Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube and Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Paul Mavima to explore modalities on how the condition of service and welfare of government workers can be improved.

ZIMTA has written to President Mnangagwa in a letter dated April 26, 2021 expressing their displeasure on the current remuneration given to teachers.

Government has in the past said it had no resources to match the salary demands of civil servants as it has to deal with the challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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