By Alois Vinga
THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) has written to government demanding the gazetting of a national minimum wage of US$600 or RTGS$1800 in order to cushion workers from inflation.
However, the demand was immediately rejected by the Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ) as unreasonable.
The letter signed by ZCTU’s president, Peter Mutasa urges government officials to recall that they have an obligation to protect workers and confirms that the union’s highest decision making body in between congresses the General Council met on the 23rd of March and decided on the new structures.
“The national minimum wage is the only way to help the suffering workers. After getting reports from all the affiliate unions which represent workers across the country’s economic sectors, the ZCTU General Council set the national minimum wage at US$600 or RTGS$1800 a figure which is in line with the poverty datum line,” Mutasa said.
The labour federation boss said that the Constitution makes it clear that workers are entitled to fair remuneration and called on social partners to engage in dialogue over the matter.
However, contacted for comment, Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe deputy president, Israel Murefu immediately rejected the demand describing as “highly unsustainable”.
“Salaries are normally increased at industrial level through the relevant sector national employment councils.
“The process is determined by an evaluation of the key industry performance as assessed and agreed on by both employer and employee representatives which make a uniform wage increment unsustainable,” Murefu told NewZimbabwe.com.
He argued that while workers are within their rights to demand the salary increments, there is need to balance that with the economy’s performance.
“So what it may imply is that more businesses will close shop because they are already operating in a depressed environment and most of them not even generating enough revenue as they are just struggling to keep afloat hoping that better opportunities may crop up in the future,” the EMCOZ said.
The ZCTU called for a demonstration which led to a total shutdown of the nation mid- January following a 150% fuel price hike announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
However, the recent announcement of the Monetary Policy Statement by the central bank has irked the unionists further. They are arguing that since salaries were initially pegged on 1:1 exchange rate between the US dollar and the local surrogate currency the bond note that has since been upgraded to a full medium of exchange under the name the RTGS dollar most salaries have been eroded.
The current interbank exchange rate is between RTGS3 to RTGS4 against the US dollar.