Godfrey Marawanyika/ Rodwin Chirara
A MAJOR collective bargaining battle is on the cards between employers and workers as the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) is now seeking $861 000 as the minimum w
age in line with the poverty datum line.
Labour’s demands come in the wake of poverty datum line figures for the first quarter which were compiled by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ).
ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo this week said there was need for an upward review of what workers were earning.
“What we would like people to earn is based on the recommendations of the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe who said the poverty datum line for a family of six should now be $861 000 a month,” Matombo said. “$861 000 is what we are simply asking for. That figure is for the first quarter and now we are in the second quarter and are giving employers up until June 1 or else we are embarking on a nationwide strike to pressure them (employers).”
The last time the ZCTU called for a successful stayaway was in 1998, when it managed to grind the economy to a standstill as workers heeded the union leaders’ call for a work boycott.
However, over the past two years, the ZCTU’s efforts to protest on issues such as those of governance have failed to meet the 1998 standards.
Matombo said although some of the unions were still negotiating with their employers they should try and meet the June deadline.
“We are saying that they should meet the June deadline just in case inflation maintains its stability like what it has been doing during the first quarter,” Matombo said.
“Then there would be a need to stabilise incomes against prices, because some employers are now adopting the Reserve Bank governor’s comments that workers should not demand higher wages.”
In his monetary policy review, RBZ governor Gideon Gono said workers should not make huge wage demands because this could cause inflationary pressures on the economy.
Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe president Mike Bimha was not available for comment as he was said to be attending a board meeting.
Last month the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) raised concern about the issue of labour costs.
The CZI said for a successful economic recovery programme, the ZCTU should not be accustomed to high wage increments that have been necessary in the past because of hyperinflation.
The CZI said the ZCTU should mitigate “their wage expectations in the light of the falling inflation rate”.
Zimbabwe’s year-on-year inflation has declined from a high of 622,8% in January this year to the current 583%.
At the same time month-on-month that averaged around 18% last year, and reached a peak of 33% in November, slowed down to 13,7% in January, 6% in February and 5,9% in March.