By Alois Vinga
BUSINESS and labour representatives have clashed over the proposal to set a national minimum wage in a bid to cushion workers whose concerns may not be addressed through their respective National Employment Councils (NECs).
The matter is currently under discussion at the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) – a social dialogue platform which brings together government, business and labour representatives.
Speaking to NewZimbabwe.com Business Monday, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general, Japhet Moyo said labour was pushing for the move in a bid to cushion the neglected and vulnerable workers.
“We are not taking away the bargaining powers of the NECs per se. Those doing better just like the case with enterprise level would negotiate and improve on the level set at the national level.
“The NECs would constitute to work as bargaining platforms for wages, conditions of employment etc. The essence of a national minimum wage is meant to deal with a crisis that we have at the moment,” he said.
Moyo highlighted that the move will assist in a case where some NECs cannot even sit and deliberate on increment issues due to perennial deadlocks.
“Just imagine that we still have minimums as was set up by the minister in March 2020 even today, and one wonders where the respective NECs are as workers toil in poverty?” he questioned.
The phenomena are common in the developed world even countries that are not in crisis set minimums, countries like Germany, Switzerland and Sweden.
Recently, just elected US president Joe Biden proposed a US$15 per hour as the new minimum wage for the country.
But Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ) president, Israel Murefu dismissed the proposal saying NECs must continue to decide on the matter.
“The NECs negotiations and increments are based on economic sectors mining performances. They know their sectors better than TNF partners because they operate in those sectors.
“So, they can judge if the sector is doing well or not which then informs them on what minimum wage to set which is sustainable for the sector,” he said.
Murefu said that the TNF does not have intimate knowledge of the sectors and is likely to set a wrong minimum wage.
“We cannot compare Zimbabwe to countries like the USA which are advanced economies with industries operating at almost 100% capacity compared to ours which is below 30 % if not lower,” he added.