IN the face of sky-rocketing prices of basic commodities against stagnant salaries, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has asked Labour minister Sekesai Nzenza to convene an urgent meeting of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF).
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
ZCTU acting president Florence Taruvinga recently wrote to Nzenza requesting an urgent meeting of government, business and labour in the face of a debilitating economic crisis.
“The ZCTU is deeply concerned with the state of the economy, the deteriorating and unstable macro-economic environment has had a serious impact on the worker and their quest to decent salaries,” she wrote.
Taruvinga said the recent price hikes on fuel, bread, transport and other essentials had significantly eroded the buying power of workers’ salaries, leaving them on the verge of poverty, therefore, necessitating an urgent TNF meeting.
“The upward adjustment in fuel prices has hard knock-on effects on the prices of basic goods and services such as transport, rentals, school fees, food and medical aid. The working people of Zimbabwe have suffered immensely as wages have failed to keep pace with the inflationary trends, the situation has worsened rendering it practically impossible for workers across all sectors to earn the current salaries and sustain their families or go to work,” she said.
Nurses have since embarked on a go-slow in response to the hardships caused by poor salaries and the high cost of living they are enduring under the government’s Transitional Stabilisation Programme.
ZCTU insists that Nzenza should call for the first TNF meeting early to ensure that workers’ salaries are adjusted before monthend.
The labour mother body has, however, said beyond adjusting salaries it was important to ensure urgent currency reforms because without such measures any increments will be eroded as the RTGS dollar continues to take a beating both on the interbank and black markets.
The RTGS dollar is currently trading at 1:10 on the black market, while on the interbank it’s trading at 1:6 up from 1:5 last week.
Nzenza was unreachable for comment yesterday.
Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe president Israel Murefu, who is currently away in Geneva attending the International Labour Organisation conference said he was aware that government has requested social partners to formulate an agenda.
“We are doing that through our business structures. There is no agreed agenda yet. We are not aware that the ZCTU has written to government about salaries,” he said.
“However, I would not be surprised if the issue of currency stability finds its way on the agenda. We understand we will have an inaugural meeting next week and obviously, the agenda ought to be agreed before then. But I would surmise that the first meeting should first deal with rules of engagement and how partners will transact their dialogue before dealing with substantive matters. Any agenda items must be for the parties to agree.”