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Emcoz/ZCTU clash on collective bargaining

Godfrey Marawanyika

THE Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) have clashed over labour’s demand of $500 000 a month as the poverty datum line.

Labour also proposed a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which employers have shot down.

The CBA model seeks to harmonise collective bargaining standards in Zimbabwe.

The standards are to be used as a guiding document for unions during collective bargaining.

However, employers feel that the CBA cannot be a conduct since it is a bargaining position.

The ZCTU’s position paper on collective bargaining says since the current minimum wage of $98 000 is now lower than the relevant Poverty Datum Line (PDL) of $325 450,53 it would be prudent to have the PDL above $500 000.

“If month-on-month inflation, which is calculated by the movement in the Consumer Price Index, was to rise at a rate of 40% between November and December 2003, the PDL would reach $357 735,05,” ZCTU said.

“Adding a 50% increase in prices for January prices would give a PDL of $536 602,79. According to the basket of goods released by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ), a family of six currently requires over $645 000 to purchase basic commodities at the market prices.”

For the first quarter of this year, the ZCTU says the workers’ position was to at least achieve the relevant PDL of $540 000 for January and to update allowances accordingly that reflect reality.

“The figure is based on projections based on conservative CSO figures. What this means therefore is that the minimum wage will be raised to the relevant PDL for January, with the differentials worked out for the rest of the grades,” the ZCTU said.

“After the negotiations for the first quarter, the second quarter review will have to be done before April focusing on wages and allowances. The review will focus on the adjustments to match inflation.”

Emcoz president Mike Bimha said the issues raised by the ZCTU were unrealistic since Zimbabwe’s economy was still limping, a trend which has been worsened by soaring inflation.

“Labour’s concerns to the employer which includes issues such as housing, transport, accommodation and various other allowances which are not part of the salary are not justified,” said Bimha.

“Employers are not ready for that because the economy is not yet right. We have problems such as inflation and foreign exchange shortages. But the ZCTU’s bargain agreement paper cannot be a proposal but a bargaining position.”

Bimha said there were a number of instances in the “model” where the model makes reference to a condition of employment as if “it is a minimum condition as laid down in the Labour Relations Act when it is not,”

“This is regrettable and needs to be corrected without delay to preserve good industrial relations,” he said.

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