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Workers demand USD salaries

ZIMBABWE Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Florence Taruvinga has said the economy can afford US dollars salaries and workers should be paid salaries that match the poverty datum line (PDL) as the minimum wage as was agreed at the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) in 2018.

“In principle we agreed at the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) that the minimum wage should be based on the levels of the Poverty Datum Line. We also agreed that the principle of restoration of workers’ wages that prevailed in April 2018, should have been maintained. Then the PDL was USD$500, she told the Zimbabwe Independent in an interview this week.

“However, when it came to implementation of the recommendation, which was to promulgate a Statutory Instrument with the minimum wage being half in US dollar PDL which existed in 2018, the government decided to implement it as ZW$2 549, 74 as captured in SI 81/2020. This was a departure from the recommendation.”

The ZCTU, Taruvinga said, was committed to ensuring that employers and the government respect the rights of workers.

“We are focused on ensuring that workers earn salaries which are above the Poverty Datum Line. It is of paramount importance that working should transform workers from being poor. We are concerned with the high levels of poor working people. The salaries have been too meagre over time to allow workers to have disposable incomes which can be transformative. The case of Zimbabwean workers has been that of living from hand to mouth and that should surely change,” she said.

“The Tripartite Negotiating Forum would have been the vital cog missing in our socio and economic landscape. Unfortunately the TNF Act provides that whatever issues or recommendations which are derived from the negotiations should be referred to Cabinet for discussion and ratification. However, at times this is where the wheels sometimes come off. The Cabinet is not answerable to the TNF and therefore can afford to make any decisions that they deem fit regardless of the position of TNF.”

Taruvinga said plans to establish a national health insurance to be run by the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) were likely to fail given that other such institutions owned by the State are in a mess.

“We have been very clear and consistent in our views towards the National Health Scheme. We have always indicated that the scheme was a noble idea but they need to deal with the fundamentals first. Health care being provided by State institutions are in shambles and need to be urgently worked on to revamp the quality of the facility.”

She went on: “The National Health Scheme should not be administered by Nssa. The authority has got its hands full with managing the fund. It would be counterproductive to then overload Nssa with the responsibilities to manage NHS funds. We are also of the view that broader consultations have to be done with workers on the scheme. Our view being that already workers are indicating that they feel that they are overtaxed, yet there are issues on how the funds from the fiscus are being utilised. The Auditor General’s Office reports have spoken to widespread fiscal indiscipline. All those factors weigh heavily on our decision as labour to either support or not support the intended policy initiative.”  Staff Writer.

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