ZCTU Advocates for Wage Revisions as Zimbabwe’s Inflation Escalates

Zimbabwean Workers Push for Wage Alignment with Escalating Living Costs after Currency Plummets.

by Adenike Adeodun

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) is expressing deep concern over the inadequacy of wages in Zimbabwe as workers face the harsh realities of a rapidly devaluing currency and a cost of living that continues to skyrocket. The situation has escalated to the point where the National Employment Councils (NECs) are being urged to align minimum wages more closely with the actual cost of living, reflecting inflation rates that are pegged against the US dollar.

This urgent call by ZCTU Secretary-General Japhet Moyo comes amid growing frustration among workers who find that their earnings are not keeping pace with inflation. The economic backdrop is stark: last year, Zimbabwe’s currency, the Zimdollar (ZWL$), depreciated by over 700%, severely diluting the purchasing power of wages. This sharp decline has pushed workers to demand adjustments that align with the rising costs, particularly as wages lag significantly behind the poverty datum line (PDL).

In response to these demands, the NEC for the Commercial Sectors of Zimbabwe recently increased the minimum wage from US$253 to US$295 or its equivalent in Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG), using the official forex rate. At this rate, the cost of living for a single individual amounts to nearly ZiG4,000, starkly contrasting with the Total Consumption Poverty Line which was reported at ZiG650.26 per person in April 2024 by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency.

Despite these adjustments, Moyo emphasizes that this change is part of a broader collective bargaining agreement within the commercial sector and is a result of negotiations between registered employer organizations and trade unions. He stresses that NECs have the authority to set minimum employment conditions and wages, but he accuses them of not fully representing workers’ interests, as agreements rarely exceed the poverty threshold.

Amidst these economic challenges, the Public Service Labour and Social Welfare ministry has taken a firm stance on compliance with regulatory requirements, canceling the registration certificate of the NEC for the Food and Allied Industry. This action was due to the council’s failure to submit audited financial statements for 2023. The cancellation is based on stipulations in the Labour Amendment section 56 and could signal broader implications for other NECs that fail to comply with similar regulations.

The cancellation was communicated through a letter from the Acting Registrar of Labour, citing specific legislative sections that mandate the submission of audited financial accounts and other required reports within specified deadlines. The letter warns that failure to meet these requirements justifies the cancellation of a registration certificate, a measure that has now been enforced against the NEC for the Food and Allied Industry.

This development is part of a larger context where the effectiveness and transparency of NECs are being called into question. With financial accountability in the spotlight, the pressure is mounting on all NECs to adhere strictly to legal and financial standards to avoid similar punitive actions.

The broader economic situation in Zimbabwe remains tense, with inflation impacting various sectors and eroding the standard of living for many. Workers and their representatives continue to advocate for wages that not only meet legal minimums but also reflect the realities of an economy marked by volatility and significant financial challenges.

As the ZCTU mourns the state of low wages and the struggle for fair compensation continues, the need for robust and transparent negotiation processes is more apparent than ever. The role of NECs in this landscape is crucial, as their ability to negotiate effectively and transparently can significantly impact the livelihoods of countless workers across Zimbabwe.


Source: Newsday

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