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Timber wage dispute taken to Supreme Court

EMPLOYERS in the timber sector have applied to the Supreme Court to have a Labour Court ruling compelling them to continue paying a minimum wage of US$150, a figure they feel must be slashed to US$105, businessdigest has learnt.

By Kudzai Kuwaza

Employers want the minimum wage reduced to US$105 amid viability concerns in the sector.

An official from the General Agricultural and Plantation Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Gapwuz) told businessdigest on Wednesday that employers in the sector have taken the wage dispute to the Supreme Court.

“Employers in the sector earlier this month took the issue to the Supreme Court ,” the official said. “We await the ruling by the court.”

Employers in the timber sector include Allied Timbers, Border Timbers and Wattle Company.

Gapwuz acting general secretary Golden Magwaza told businessdigest, when they won the wage dispute at the Labour Court last year , the ruling was a vindication of their fight for workers’ rights in the timber sector.

“We are very happy with this ruling because we have been fighting for workers to get this minimum wage since 2012,” Magwaza said.

The wage dispute in the tea sector is also far from being resolved with Gapwuz and employers in the sector deadlocked on the issue of the minimum wage with the issue now set for conciliation at the ministry of Labour.

Employers, who include Tanganda Tea Company and Southdown Holdings Ltd, have cited operational difficulties caused by the harsh economic environment as reason to push the minimum wage down from US$95 to US$77. However, the trade union insists that the minimum wage of US$95 should be paid by employers.

“We have met several times with employers and they are citing the difficult economic environment as the reason they want to reduce workers’ salaries but we have said they must at least maintain the minimum wage,” a source involved in the discussions revealed last year.

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