BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
ZIMBABWE’S agriculture industry has awarded its employees in the horticulture sector a 71,36% salary increment which is, however, too little to cushion them from the prevailing economic hardships.
Before the adjustment, the least paid employee in the horticulture sector was earning $213 a month, while the highest was taking home $421.
Following the latest adjustment, the lowest paid employee will now get $365 while the highest paid will earn $722.
In a circular, the National Employment Council for the agriculture industry said the wage review and agreement, signed on October 3, was reached by several parties, among them, the Zimbabwe Agricultural Employers Organisation, the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union, Zimbabwe Farmers Union, Commercial Farmers’ Union, General Agriculture and Plantation Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe and the Horticulture General Agriculture and Plantation Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe.
“An establishment or employees can apply to the National Employment Council within 14 days for an exemption or partial exemption or review from paying wages as set up in the above schedule, stating the reasons why that application should be considered,” reads part of the circular.
But Progressive Agriculture and Allied Industries Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe general secretary Raymond Sixpence described the new salary increment as a mockery.
“The money is not even enough. No one can survive on that kind of money. Things have gone up. Workers will not even be able to buy basic commodities like mealie-meal and cooking oil. We feel the lowest paid should at least get $1 000 a month,” he said.
Inflationary pressures have seen the cost of living rising beyond the reach of many in the southern African nation as prices of basic commodities have more than quadrupled in recent months, resulting in the poverty datum line for an average family of five skyrocketing by 15,18% to $1 617 in July.
Farm workers in Zimbabwe are among the least paid employees and classified as the “working poor”, despite the fact that agriculture is the backbone of the country’s economy.
At its peak, the sector used to provide 45% of the country’s exports, 60% of all raw materials used by local industry and 70% employment.