Wages lag behind consumption poverty line as businesses struggle to survive

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By Alois Vinga

SALARIES across the country’s key economic sectors have remained subdued with employers continuing to award increments way below the Total Consumption Poverty Line (TCPL).

This comes as most companies battle for survival amid the country’s deteriorating economic situation.

Information on the current minimum wages gathered by NewZim Business from the respective employment sectors shows that to date, several employers have not offered meaningful salary increments in line with inflationary pressures and price increases as determined by TCPL.

Total Consumption Poverty Line represents the total income needed for five members of a household with all their income added together as a minimum for them not to be deemed poor.

The Funeral Industry’s minimum salary is currently at $365, Electronics, Communications and Allied Industry has pegged minimum salaries ranging between $335 to $685, Printing and Packaging sector is at $400 while the Food and Allied Industries has set minimum wages from $302 to $381.

The Construction Industry is currently paying a minimum wage of $323 and $430 following recent increments, textiles manufacturing is paying $303 and the mining sector is standing at $632.

Some of the sectors performing well include the banking sector which is paying a minimum of $936, mining $468, and tobacco sector at $512, catering $321 and the Agriculture Industry is paying amounts of between $131 and $250.

The energy sector is standing at $486, security industry $276, furniture industry $550 and clothing sector is at $237.

Even civil servants, who were recently awarded a 76% salary increase pushing the least paid worker in government to a salary of about $1 023 are also below the consumption line.

The majority of salary rates therefore fall far below the current TCPL which currently stands at $1 617 for an average Zimbabwean family’s expenditure on food and non-food items a month, registering a 15,18% increase from the July, according to a latest report by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Council.

“The TCPL for an average household (of five) in July 2019 ranged from $1 369 in Mashonaland Central province to $1 862 in Matabeleland North province,” Zimstat said recently.

Describing the quality of salary negotiations for the better part of the year, Labour Economic and Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe director, Godfrey Kanyenze said despite employers and employees across the country’s employment sectors being actively engaged in wage related dialogue, only one sector managed to pay its workers PDL linked wages.

“It is especially instructive that of all the negotiated minimum wages through National Employment Councils, only the banking sector has a minimum wage above the Poverty Datum Line.

“The situation has obviously been worsened by the adverse impact of the austerity programme being implemented by government through the Transitional Stabilisation Programme and the currency reforms that resulted in the reintroduction of the Zimbabwe dollar,” he said.

Most companies listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange have defended the current salaries saying that they cannot offer increases that are being triggered by black market foreign currency exchange rates which are not linked to economic productivity.