Is There Hope For The Worker?

ZIMBABWEAN parents are known for naming their children after significant events, places and circumstances in their lives, hence names such as Hope, Clever, Succeed, Destiny, Canaan, Gracious, Brilliant, Polite, Brains, amongst others are commonly given names.


But a lot of Zimbabweans are not feeling very ambitious these days. They are too concerned about the future. Social security has all but collapsed and inflation is said to be well above the 231 million % according to official estimates.
The Organisational Excellence Consultants (OEC) recently undertook research on “why employees were not leaving their current employers” despite the economic challenges facing the country.
Workers across the country are downtrodden.
That could inspire a new naming slant such as Mistake, Sufferer, Die-Once, Lonely, Restless, Never, Survival, Inflation, and Miracle.
Yet still, Zimbabweans are an incredibly resilient and determined lot and they will surely weather the storm.
But for Sharon Mtizwa (34), there isn’t much hope at the moment. Her employer paid her a transport allowance in the form of a cheque. Cashing the cheque is a nightmare. Her employer, who knows  only too well that the banking system is a joke and that the minimum bank withdrawals per day are ridiculous, does not seem to care. Her salary is not enough to even open a current account with one of the commercial banks.
“My company, despite handling cash on a daily basis, claims it cannot pay me in cash,” Mutizwa said. “They claim to be  failing to access cash from the bank.”
Mtizwa, a mother of three, is among the 11% who according to the survey by OEC were staying with their current employers because of family or personal reasons.
“I am widowed. If it was not for the (school fees) assistance I receive from my company and the company car I use, I could have left the company a long time ago. I want my children to finish school,” she said.
According to OEC, the provision of company cars is proving to be a successful retention strategy.
As the policy of providing housing/building loans has become increasingly impossible, offering cars to employees is the next best option.
“Frequently the disparity between what an individual earns and the car they drive is astounding.  In a society that is so highly driven by social status concerns this benefit is extremely important,”said OEC.
Some organisations, although paying low salaries, have attractive polices which allow car users to become owners after a designated period of service.
“Payment of school fees has always been and continues to be a popular retention strategy. However, many organisations have reduced this policy from being an open benefit to include any amount of children to a maximum of two per family,” OEC observed.
Ten year ago children were taught three life stages-going to school, going to work and starting adult life.
There is no more pride in being formally employed these days. Parents and guardians now encourage their children to start income-generating projects other than looking for a job.
It is a great shame how workers who lived their lives on the straight and narrow and worked hard for the country and their families have become the society’s laughing stock. The middle-class has been reduced to paupers.
Pensioners and workers still hanging on to their jobs are simply miserable. According to the International Monetary Fund, Zimbabwe’s economy is the fastest shrinking in the world. Going to work does not make sense for many at the moment.
The plight of the worker has been worsened by fading of prospects for a better harvest next year. Experts warn that Zimbabwe’s food crisis is set to claw into 2009 because of poor preparation, lack of inputs and a late onset of rainfall.
Frightening levels of material poverty is the major issue on Zimbabweans’ minds as they watch their once prosperous country
slip further into chaos, hunger and economic collapse. And with no sign of rains, availability of fertiliser or maize seed in sight,
people are losing hope and becoming more and more disillusioned.
The situation paints a bleak picture of a country on the brink of massive starvation, unprecedented unemployment, low salaries, stress and deteriorating health services.
It never rains but it pours for the Zimbabwean worker.

 

By Paul Nyakazeya

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