Workers vow to push govt in wage battle

LIVINGSTONE MARUFU

Government workers have vowed to push President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration to improve their working conditions as their salaries trail the ZWL$36,000 low income urban earner consumer basket, Business Times can report.

Trade unions have declared incapacitation amid revelations that most workers take home between ZWL$20,000 and ZWL$30,000.

Workers said they were no longer able to provide essentials for their families, due to sky-rocketing prices of goods and commodities.

“Workers as a whole, from the private sector, public sector to informal sector, have agreed that we need to continue pressing on the government to give us the money that can buy basic commodities,” Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions president Peter Mutasa said.

“We should fight against this exploitation of being paid an amount that can’t buy food and that is six times less than the school fees. What will our children be when they are not getting the basic education.”

Mutasa said a country would not be able to develop when workers are getting such inconsequential amounts.

The spending power has dwindled due to poor wages that workers are getting.

“(Companies such as) Innscor, Simbisa Brands, National Foods, Edgars and Ok Zimbabwe among other local companies need customers’ strong spending power. But, with this pittance, the economy cannot develop as companies and the economy need big amounts to tick.

“Even if the agriculture season was good but the poor spending power will remain a big hindrance to the growth of the economy,” Mutasa said.

Although the government has been offering token salary increases over the past few months, the Apex Council representatives believe that there was a need for consultations to iron out all sticking points.

“We have asked the government to go back with their offer and bring back a new offer which is commensurate with the obtaining economic environment and we haven’t received any feedback.

“We wrote a letter to the government declaring incapacitation and we will only work for Mondays and Tuesdays per week to match the salaries we are getting,” Apex council spokesperson and deputy secretary Gibson Mushangu told Business Times.

He added: “Given that we need clothing, food and send children to school and we hope the government will take heed of our urgent meeting.”

The cost of living as measured by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe’s (CCZ)’ monthly basket for a family of six increased to ZWL$35,703.41 in March 2021 from ZWL$35,543.30 in February.

The food basket increased by ZWL$89.26 or 0.60% to ZWL$15,082.71 by the end of March 2021 from ZWL$14, 993.45 by the end of February 2021.

The price of detergents increased by ZWL$70.85 or 7.05% to ZWL$1,076.20 from $1,005.35.

“As CCZ, the increase in the total figure of the basket is attributed to the price increases especially on the basic food items, due to inflation; influence of the exchange rate and in exceptional cases the parallel market.

“The further relaxation of the lockdown regulations has resulted in an increased movement of consumers, activities of the market place and change of consumer behaviour patterns emanating from the eroding of consumer buying power,” CCZ said.

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