Wage Negotiations Deadlock Over ZCTU Claims

THE Employer’s Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) this week said wage negotiations within various National Employment Councils (NECs) have been dragging on three months after the dollarisation of the economy as employers and workers are failing to agree on how much should be paid as a minimum wage in hard currency.

Emcoz director John Mufukare told businessdigest on Wednesday that at least 10 of the NECs would seek arbitration at the Labour Court after they deadlocked on the minimum wage.

“There are still a number of employment councils who have outstanding cases,” he said. “From the information we have received, about 10 NECs are heading for arbitration.”

Mufukare said most of the cases to be heard by the court were disputes between the employers and workers on the method of payment to substitute hard currency.

“Employers were offering food vouchers and fuel coupons as a method of payment arguing that they did not have hard currency to pay. Workers are refusing such forms of payment,” Mufukare said.

He said paying in foreign currency may force some companies to close.

The Emcoz boss said there was need for a meeting where all stakeholders could come up with a renumeration policy informed by the prevailing macroeconomic climate.

Mufukare said the resumption of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF), a negotiating platform between business, labour and government, would also help to stabilise the salary structure of all sectors.

The TNF has not been functional since the collapse of the tripartite agreement by the three parties in 2007.

Mufukare said they had introduced a weekly food basket for a family of five, adopting the formula applied by the Central Statistical Office and revealed that the basket was US$93,95 last week.

He said the recent demands by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions to peg the minimum wage at US$454 exceeded the Emcoz calculations and they would soon meet with the labour body to thrash out the issue.

“We notice that they have made a demand of a minimum wage of US$454 and we will meet with them to find out how they came up with that figure. Our own calculations, which are a total of non-food items and the food basket, will add to an ideal minimum wage of about US$274. We want to meet them and come up with one figure” Mufukare said.

The parameters for wage payments have proved problematic since the government in January adopted the use of multiple currencies to be used alongside the Zimbabwe dollar as a means of trade in January.

The local currency is now virtually worthless as it is no longer accepted by manufacturers and retailers.

This has forced employers to pay their workers in foreign currency.

BY KUDZAI KUWAZA