Workers’ representatives have blamed huge executive monthly earnings for high company salary bills and have said this must be rectified so that workers are awarded salaries in line with Poverty Datum Line (PDL).
Addressing an Institute of People Management Zimbabwe (IPMZ) 2011 Labour Briefing meeting, Gideon Shoko, the ZCTU first deputy secretary general, said some executives earned very high salaries.
“Salaries for executives in most companies are very high, sometimes as high as that of 65 ordinary employees put together,” he said.
The trade unionist likened the situation in some companies as that of Animal Farm, where some animals were said to be more equal than others.
“A friend of mine once remarked that the only perk that some executives do not have is a company wife. Let us equally share the pain of a recovering economy,” he said.
Since the introduction of the multi-currency regime, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has been involved in battles with employers to have workers awarded PDL-adjusted salaries.
“Awarding PDL salaries will ensure that there is enough disposable income out there and as long as workers afford buying goods that are locally produced, this will help keep jobs,” said Shoko.
The ZCTU first deputy secretary-general said the union had suggested to employers that effecting PDL adjusted salaries could be staggered until workers earn above $500 a month.
He said employers have refused the suggestion arguing that salary bills are high and companies that are recovering from a decade long economic depression cannot afford PDL adjusted salaries.
Shoko also took a swipe at the government for shifting the responsibility of taxes from companies that are making profits to their members who are struggling with low salaries.
Shoko said the country’s tax system was punitive to the ordinary worker.
“The tax system remains regressive and penalises ordinary workers. It is very punitive to the ordinary worker,” he said.
“The government has shifted the tax burdens from operating companies that are making profits to the workers who are the lowest paid in Africa.”
The ZCTU is also demanding that the majority of workers in the country be exempt from tax as they are earning below PDL salaries.
“The position of the ZCTU is that the income tax-free threshold should be reviewed and set at the PDL since taxing someone earning below the PDL, including allowances and bonuses is not only immoral but also retrogressive,” he said.
The union has made its submissions to the Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti who is expected to unveil the 2011 budget on Thursday.