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Give workers living wages, says Mnangagwa

by Staff reporter
01 May 2020 at 07:46hrs | Views
Workers should be given a living wage, while employers should think of other sustainable ways of supporting employees that are not easily eroded, and those in the informal sector must be included in economic recovery plans, President Mnangagwa has said.

In his message to mark this year's Workers Day celebrations, President Mnangagwa said the Covid-19 pandemic was a wake-up call, and one that stressed the need to include small and medium enterprises and the informal sector in all economic recovery measures and plans to proceed after the emergency.

Since last year, the Government had been adjusting workers' earnings with a view to making them living wages.

Although it might come short of this key goal, the President said, the commitment to support and sustain the worker should and must always be there.

"Government has continued to adjust your earnings, with a view to making them living wages. Yet the goal of taming inflation, and the general cost of living, has largely remained elusive, an ungraspable mirage. Elusive, because of the successive droughts which continue to visit us, making our nation a net importer of food.

"Elusive because of punitive, illegal sanctions which continue to beset us, closing possibilities for our economy. And now, even more elusive, because of the global Covid-19 pandemic which has thrown us and the rest of the world off rail, into a severe recession. Predictably, our economy will close the year in the negative territory. So, too, will the economies of the world, including the strongest ones," said the President.

This year's Workers Day celebrations, he said, came in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Government could not afford any more loss of life to the virus than the country had already borne.

So Government took tough yet unavoidable measures to safeguard life, although these might have brought the nation to a complete standstill and the economy virtually to a shutdown.

"From a consolidation of all this, every employer, in whatever sector of our economy, must and should think beyond the weekly or monthly wage.

"Over the years, we have realised how easily erodible wages are, especially in times of economic shocks, destabilisations and instability. Now we have this new, dreadful factor of a global viral pandemic.

"Clearly, the years ahead show all these as the conditioning norm for global businesses, in which case we are best advised to cushion the worker through a more resilient, shock-proof system of reward and resilience."

Mnangagwa underlined that the bottom-line was that the worker must have food, shelter, and must be able to afford health services, while being able to send children to school.

"This, dear compatriots, must be the new thrust and ethic for us all, whatever sector we play in," he said.

In view of the successive difficult years the country had experienced, the President added, Government continued to import more food for distribution to all the people, including to workers and their families in rural and urban areas. Government expanded food distribution into urban areas to take care of the workforce especially in these distressful times. While the global focus might be on workers in formal employment, Zimbabwe's situation required the country to place greater focus on small-to-medium enterprises and on the broad informal sector.

"These subsectors have sustained the greater number of national livelihoods as our nation battles myriad adversities, whether natural or man-made.

"This means our programmes aimed at defending and sustaining worker welfare must put these two sub-sectors at the heart of our policies.

"Already, Government has decided to include special, well-tailored packages for SMEs and the informal sector in its overall Post-Covid-19 Stimulus Recovery Measures which I shall announce shortly," said the  President. He said the Covid-19 pandemic had been a wake-up call, which had shaken all out of complacency.

As a long-term measure against any such pandemics in future, President Mnangagwa said, the Government had to reorganise SMEs and informal markets so that both were compliant with public health                  needs.

Source - the herald