Workers’ unions have called for the resumption of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum to address the eroded workers’ salaries following a pricing discord which has seen astronomical increases of prices of most basic commodities.
A spokesperson for six affiliates of the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions, Mr Bernard Dhanda said the unions had agreed to write to the Labour and Social Welfare Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza requesting an urgent resumption of the TNF to address the workers’ salaries issue.
Mr Dhanda said unions agreed that demonstrations will be a waste of time and had instead agreed to engage in dialogue.
He said the prevailing unrealistic pricing regime across all sectors of the economy had eroded the workers’ salaries and most of them were now struggling to even pay for transport to work.
“If nothing is done now, the situation will get out of hand as most workers will fail to report for duty,” said Mr Dhanda.
He said workers need protection from the State through either engaging employers to negotiate for a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) or a statutory instrument to introduce a COLA by the Minister of Labour across the board.
Mr Dhanda said workers want the negotiations to take place as a matter of urgency to alleviate further suffering and loss of workforce to other countries where there is value for their labour.
The civil servants, who also said their salaries have been eroded by the price madness witnessed during the past few weeks, are demanding to be paid in foreign currency arguing that some retailers are rejecting bond notes and electronic transfers.
The Zimbabwe Nurses’ Association and the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) said they could no longer afford to buy basic commodities because of the exorbitant prices charged by most retailers.
They said what has worsened the situation is that some retailers are demanding payment in United States dollars.
We totally agree with the workers that there is an urgent need to address the issue of their salaries that have been eroded by high prices of most basic commodities.
Government, labour and employers need to meet to decide the way forward. The businesses on their part should revert to proper pricing systems as opposed to profiteering.
Government has repeatedly stated that the prevailing prices are not justified but it seems businesses have not taken heed.
There is a need for businesspersons to uphold business ethics and guard against speculative behaviour which has seen some retailers and wholesalers hoarding commodities in order to create artificial shortages.
The request by civil servants to be paid in forex is not the solution to the challenges facing the economy.
It is a fact that the economy is not generating adequate forex to meet imports requirements and as such paying civil servants in forex is not feasible.
What should be addressed is the shortcoming of businesses rejecting bond notes or electronic transfers.
There is also an urgent need to put in place mechanisms to ensure businesses charge realistic prices.
We want to once again appeal to businesses to be sensitive to the plight of their customers.