FARM workers have been given a salary increment of between $5 and $7 amid concern that union officials who negotiated the adjustments failed to adequately represent the interests of their lowly-paid members.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
This means farm workers on average now earn $82 up from $75 a month.
General Agriculture and Plantation Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Gapwuz) leader Austin Muswere confirmed the development yesterday, saying more needed to be done to improve the welfare of farm workers.
“We concluded the negotiations for two sectors. The first one is on horticulture which moved from $82 to $89. This is with effect from July 1. Another completion was done on general agriculture which marks the basis of the minimum wage in the agriculture industry. It moved from $75 to $80,” Muswere said.
“The agriculture workers’ wages are very low and I cannot really say it’s a milestone but it’s a push that has happen. We have been negotiating for some time and it is not pleasing to have that margin if you compare to what happened to civil servants.”
However, another union, Progressive Agriculture and Allied Industries Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PAAWUZ) said those that negotiated and agreed the paltry increase sold out.
PAAWUZ secretary-general Raymond Sixpence said the marginal increase was an insult to thousands of farm workers who were wallowing in abject poverty as prices of basic commodities were rising by the day.
“This is a joke. How can they give an increase of $5 and $7 under these economic conditions? Zimbabwe is open for business but not for workers exploitation. This is unacceptable and we want that to be put aside and we embark on proper negotiations that reflect the reality on the ground,” Sixpence said.
“It is unfortunate that those who negotiated this agreed for this pittance. Farm workers deserve better and those unions and employers who negotiated for this must be warned that their time to look down upon farm workers is over.”
The marginal adjustments of salaries for farm workers came at a time when civil servants were recently awarded between 17% and 22,5% wage increases.