MOST Zimbabwean workers have now been reduced to bad debtors and are struggling to service their debts ranging from utility bills to accounts with retail stores and bank loans, among other obligations, as their employers pay salaries and wages late due to the economic crisis.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) southern region chairperson Reason Ngwenya said hardly a month passes by without them receiving floods of complaints from employees over late pay or failure to pay salaries and wages by companies.
Ngwenya said creditors and loan sharks were grabbing properties from defaulters, adding that the majority of workers had been pushed into deep poverty as a result of failure to get their salaries on time or half salaries in some cases.
The Insurance and Pensions Commission (IPEC) recently said companies were also not remitting pension contributions for employees despite deducting contributions from salaries.
“The reports we get from employees over late payment are too many to count. Once we get the complaints, we make follow-ups to force the employers to pay their workers. It is our duty to ensure that the worker’s welfare is protected at all costs,” Ngwenya said.
Civil servants have not been spared as the government has for months been forced to postpone pay dates due to the harsh liquidity crunch facing the country.
Social commentator Sibusiswe Ndlovu warned employees against buying goods on credit saying protests are the only solution to push companies to take the welfare of their workers seriously and pay salaries.
Ndlovu said if workers remain silent, employers get the impression that employees have other means of survival.
“My limited view on the issue is that no one at this time must rely on their job to meet their accounts, loans, credit or mortgages obligations. While protests may not bring an immediate solution, they may help the public to express their anger and call the government to action for their circumstances,” said Ndlovu.
Clever Bere, an analyst, noted that while it was true that the economy is teetering on the brink of collapse, companies must be innovative enough to tap onto the millions circulating in the informal sector to ensure they do not only survive, but pay salaries on time.
Bere said the government should come up with clear policies that attract foreign direct investment.
“To achieve economic stability, our politics must be sorted first. We have so many policy discords in government and this is significantly affecting foreign direct investment. I think the indigenisation law in its current state has done more harm than good to the country,” he said.