MAY DAY: Labour blasts government’s refusal to pay US$ salaries; cost of living now $92,000 but majority earn below $20,000

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By Alois Vinga

THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade unions (ZCTU) has slammed government’s refusal to meet workers’ US dollar salary demands amid calls to abandon neo-liberal policies which are reportedly hurting the economy.

Addressing hundreds of workers who thronged Dzivarasekwa stadium to commemorate Workers Day, ZCTU president Florence Taruvinga said the plea needed to be treated with urgency as authorities must not treat the matter as just a complaint.

She said government’s continued disregard for its workers’ welfare and wages had prompted workers, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to flock out of the country looking for greener pastures.

“The education sector is equally affected with teachers demotivated,” said Taruvinga.

“Their call for the US$540 salary per month has been ignored and instead they are being victimised. Our government is adamant on pursuing austerity policies and has chosen to (give) a deaf ear to the plight of its employees.”

The ZCTU leader said the cost of living has skyrocketed making stagnant wages worthless at a time the economy had self-dollarized.

She said the cost of living was at ZW$92,192.89 per month while the majority of workers were earning below ZWL$20,000.

“As I stand before you the price of bread has shot to above US$2. That is unaffordable and unacceptable. Without the ‘daily bread’ what are we expected to eat? Cake? Biscuits?  How can we be a workforce that does not afford bread,” said Taruvinga.

Also addressing the workers, Citizens Coalition for Change, vice president Tendai Biti buttressed the need for authorities to restore workers purchasing power.

He said the current policies being pursued by the government have exposed workers to a total loss of US$10 million to date.

The calls come at a time when the government has maintained that it will not be dollarized as it is not a favourable option for the  economy’s expansionist strategy ahead of Vision 2030.

Monetary authorities contend that the country is not generating enough foreign currency to sustain a full US dollar economy.