Poor salaries hinders decent work progress in Zimbabwe
By Dickson Chaeruka
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) President, Florence Taruvinga has said aspirations for decent work by workers in Zimbabwe remains a pie in the sky as long as most industrial sectors including the government continue to award workers poor salaries.
Speaking at a belated Word Day for Decent Work (WDDW) commemorations organized by the labour body in the eastern border town of Mutare last Saturday, Taruvinga said the ZCTU noted that the country was too far from attaining decent work standards.
‘’ The major challenge at the workplace today which has scuttled decent work is meagre wages and wage theft. We cannot talk of decent work without decent salaries The absence of decent and disposable income for workers indicates that we are still far behind as a country to attain descent work.,’’ she said.
According to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat) in its 2022 second quarter labour force survey, at least 62% of Zimbabwe workers were earning measly salaries, taking less than $20 000 equivalent to us$60 at black market rate and us$120 at interbank rate per month as of April against cost of a consumer basket for a family of five which was pegged by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) at $98 000 in April, jumping to $120 000 in June.
Taruvinga implored for unity amongst the working class saying workers were under siege from politicians and capital ‘’ an unholy alliance’’.
‘’We should continue to focus and push on the workers agenda in unity despite of political affiliations or anything that may divide us. If workers are divided or deceived to be separated against the objectives of the labour federation, we will not be able to bring an end to our plight. In embracing our diversity, workers are free to subscribe to political parties of their choice but what we do not tolerate is to push particular political interests of your political party in the workers’ movement. It is high time workers should be united. Capital and government are agreeing on austerity and labour market flexibility. If we fail to unite to fight the alliance as workers, we shall remain at their mercy,’’ she said.
The ZCTU boss said the country has a Decent Work Country Program (DWCP) which is aimed at amongst other objectives to promote productive employment and decent jobs as well as strengthening social dialogue capacities and processes for sustainable socioeconomic development.
‘’The Zimbabwe Decent Work Country Program Agenda is going to be signed in November. We know that our country crafts best policies but lacks on implementation. Upon signing the document, we have an obligation to take up to the task in making sure its implementation since as workers we are beneficiaries of the agenda, she said.
She also said as a starting point, the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) partners which are government, labour and business principally agreed on a national minimum wage of us$150/ or paid at an equivalent interbank rate but was still going under the processes for an official declaration.
Addressing the same gathering, ZCTU secretary general Japhet Moyo said decent work is the aspiration the working class.
‘’When we measure decent work, we look at the four pillars which are social dialogue, respect for workers’ rights, work opportunity and a safe working environment. Absence of the four pillars means a deficit of decent work at the workplace,’’ he said.
The Decent Work Celebrations were held under the theme: “Wage Justice.”
Commemorations started off with a cleanup exercise at Mudzviti Old Bus Rank in Mutare where participants mostly workers drawn from across industrial sectors and some invited civic groups took part in the exercise before they reconvened at the Regional Offices where the celebrations were folded up.
In attendance at the event was also the ZCTU 3rd Vice President, Runesu Chipamaunga, National Young Workers Chairperson, Marvelous Tawomhera, National Young Workers Secretary, Elias Matanda and the Eastern Regional Chairperson Johannes Kwangwari.
This year the ZCTU successfully celebrated the WDWD in all its 6 regions across the country and the Eastern Region managed to facilitate a dual commemoration with Rusape District having hosted the event on the 8th of October at Makoni Old People’s Home.
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