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Workers corner govt into payment of US$ rated wages, employers not amused

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By Alois Vinga

GOVERNMENT has given in to worker demands to pay US dollar rated salaries, a decision which the business sector has been reluctant to accept, NewZimbabwe.com has learnt.

Government representatives are involved in closed doors discussions with workers within the Tripartite Negotiating Forum.

Details of the ongoing deliberations suggested government was now open to a possible review of its payment regime which saw authorities adamantly resist worker demands to revert back to US dollar wages or to remunerate them in local currency pegged against the US dollar.

“The Labour Minister, Paul Mavima was given the greenlight by cabinet to settle for payment of salaries based on the 2018 US dollar denominated Poverty Datum Line,” said a source privy to the discussions.

“The salaries will then be rated against the interbank market exchange rates depending on the fluctuations.”

Zimbabwe’s beleaguered workforce has seen the value of its wages whittled down by galloping inflation propelled by sky-rocketing prices of goods and services.

Restless workers have never relented in their demands for US dollar wages or, alternatively, wage increases consistent with the wages they were earning before an unpopular government ban on multi-currency use.

The fast depreciating buying power of workers’ wages has also seen company sale volumes plummet due to depressed local demand.

“So, the business sector being represented by Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ) brought a new proposal, of considering setting the minimum wage at 50 % of the 2018 PDL.

“However, Mavima has given them (EMCOZ) up to Friday (20/3/20) to put their house in order as he appears to be losing patience with their slow pace,” the source said.

He also said EMCOZ representatives were hesitant to accept the adoption of the rand because most companies still had huge local currency bank balances which may expose them to losses if the new currency is to be urgently incepted.

Market watchers are not supporting the payment of rated salaries for fear of money creation which they say risks accelerating inflation while some fear that companies will be forced to close down or alternatively offer insecure jobs which further impoverish citizens.