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ZCTU demands minimum wage of US$600

by Staff reporter
07 Apr 2019 at 12:42hrs | Views
THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) says the spiralling cost of living justifies an upward adjustment in the minimum wage to US$600 (RTGS$1 800) to cushion the embattled worker.

To push through its agenda, the union wants government - through the ministry of Labour and Social Welfare - to convene an urgent Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) in order to deal with the multiplicity of challenges facing workers.

On March 23, 2019, the union's leadership met in Harare to consider the issue of national minimum wage as the only way to help the suffering workers.

After getting reports from all its affiliates and economic experts, the ZCTU general council set the national minimum wage of US$600 or RTGS$1 800.

In coming up with the figure, the general council took into account the poverty datum line which stands at US$600.

In a letter to the Labour and Social Welfare ministry, the union said in light of the economic challenges affecting the nation, social dialogue becomes the only solution and in that vein is imploring upon government to urgently convene a TNF meeting to discuss challenges faced by the nation.

"The Zimbabwe Constitution makes it clear that workers are entitled to fair and reasonable wage. It is our hope that the government will appreciate the need for an urgent introduction of the minimum wage to cushion workers from the prevailing economic challenges," reads part of the letter.

"Rising inflation and prices have had a devastating impact on ordinary citizen's incomes for those lucky enough to be in work or to have a pension have been massively eroded, condemning many to abject poverty.

"Their predicament is worsened by the fact that most people do not have access to foreign exchange while service providers are demanding payment in hard currency. All of this leaves most people unable to pay for critical services, be it education, housing, healthcare or transport."

This comes as prices of basic consumer goods have been going up sharply since September last year on the back of worsening foreign currency shortages.

Due to the current economic crisis, most workers are wallowing in abject poverty.

In January, disgruntled workers downed tools to protest fuel price hikes and the ever-increasing cost of living that has rendered many people's salaries useless.

To quell the protests, President Emmerson Mnangagwa's administration dispatched the military in a clampdown that was condemned by the western world due to its heavy-handedness as well as reports of rape and torture of unarmed civilians.

At least 20 people died, while 78 others were treated for serious gunshot wounds, according to rights groups and medical doctors.

Property worth millions of dollars was destroyed and looted in the mayhem which ensued, after thousands of workers heeded a three-day strike call.

Before the January skirmishes, the ZCTU leaders were also arrested and charged for allegedly inciting public violence when they insisted on going ahead with a workers' demonstration which had been banned by police.

Government also accused ZCTU of being an appendage of the main opposition MDC.

The ZCTU is the primary trade union federation in Zimbabwe.

It was formed on February 28, 1981 through the merger of six trade union centres: African Trade Union Congress, the National African Trade Union Congress, the Trade Union Congress of Zimbabwe, the United Trade Unions of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Federation of Labour and the Zimbabwe Trade Union Congress.

The ZCTU was established by the ruling party, Zanu-PF, with the aim of reducing industrial disputation, and improving the influence of the government over the union movement.

The direction of the ZCTU was to change dramatically as the country's economy took a turn for the worst.

In the 1990s, the ZCTU grew increasingly opposed to the government of then president Robert Mugabe due to the government's pursuit of neo-liberal economic policies, as well as perceived government corruption and authoritarianism.

In 1999, the ZCTU became the main force behind the formation of the opposition MDC party, with its secretary-general Morgan Tsvangirai, becoming the president of the MDC.

In January this year, the union wrote to the minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Sekai Nzenza, on the need to address the current hardships facing workers and Zimbabweans in general due to escalating prices of goods and services or face a crippling national strike.

The minister was given seven days to intervene, failure of which the labour body would mobilise Zimbabweans into a national strike, which resulted in the deployment of the military between January 14 and 16.

The union has remained deeply concerned with the deteriorating state of the country's economy that has seen  inflation galloping to over 50 percent causing serious suffering among Zimbabweans.

Since the announcement of both fiscal and monetary policies by authorities in October and November 2018, the plight of Zimbabweans continues to worsen.

The new measures, instead of solving the economic crises that the country faces, increased taxation and failed to end crisis like the shortage of cash.

Of great concern to the ZCTU is the shocking massive price hikes that have affected almost every basic commodity, worsening the plight of the already struggling masses of Zimbabwe.

Source - dailynews