By Alois Vinga
GOVERNMENT has pegged the minimum wage of a worker in the sugarcane industry to $1 200.
The amount is equivalent to US$12 based on prevailing parallel market rates which have been relied upon to determine prices of goods and services by locals.
According to Statutory Instrument 148 of 2020 which stipulates the latest wages, the highest paid employee shall receive $2 800.
The new wage regime was undertaken under the Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) aimed at cushioning the workers against rising costs of goods and services in the country.
The SI further says the newly gazetted wages shall be backdated to four months.
“This further agreement shall be deemed to have come into operation on the 1st of March, 2020,” reads the SI.
“The employer party and the employee party agreed on minimum wages of the Sugarcane Sector effective 1st March, 2020.
“The parties have further agreed on cost of living adjustment allowances (COLA), which shall be effective from 1st March, 2020, of 87.5% on the minimum wage.”
Under the new pay structure, the least paid worker under grade A1 will receive $1 200 while the highest paid worker under grade C2 will receive $2 800.
Middle grades between B1 and B5 will receive various amounts ranging from $1 599 and $2 377.
“An establishment or employees may apply to the National Employment Council within 14 days for an exemption or partial exemption/review from paying wages as set up in the above schedule, stating the reasons why that application should be considered,” further reads the SI.
The newly gazetted wages come shortly after ZIMSTAT reported that a Zimbabwean family of five now requires $ 8 484 to manage all its monthly expenses.
Locals working in formal jobs such as teaching earn as little as $3 000 in terms of gross salary with most of them taking home a net salary of around $2 000.
The Total Consumption Poverty Line for one person currently stands at $1,697.
Indications on the ground are that the costs of living figures are likely to triple owing to the recent hikes in fuel prices by almost 150%.
Labour unions in the sugarcane sector have also criticised their employers for choosing to continue paying salaries in local currency despite the fact that they are charging for their products at prices adjusted in line with exchange rates.