BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
Zimbabwe banking sector workers have threatened to demonstrate and petition the Finance and Economic Development ministry on Thursday over monetary and austerity measures the government implemented this year.
In a letter sent to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) dated November 22, 2019, Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union (Zibawu) notified the authorities of their intention to petition Treasury over its monetary and austerity measures.
“Around 300 union members will peacefully gather and demonstrate at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development offices located at the New Government Complex, in Central Avenue between Third Street and Fourth Street Harare on November 28, 2019. The workers in the financial services sector have been at the receiving end due to unfavourable policies by the responsible minister,” part of the Zibawu letter reads.
“The austerity measures and the introduction of SI 142 have brought immeasurable suffering to the workers in the banking sector and the generality of workers at large.
Accordingly, it is our right to bring to the minister’s attention the plight of workers in the financial services sector. Workers’ incomes have been eroded over 2 000%, yet the incomes have remained stagnant and in the process, pauperising finance sector workers.”
The bank workers added that financial sector workers could no longer afford transport to and from work, decent meals, medication, rentals, school fees, and other necessities.
“This action has further been ignited by the fact that our employers have made it clear that workers problems are from government. Our employers are in no uncertain terms telling us to get our reprieve from the government,” Zibawu added.
Before the austerity and monetary measures, banking sector workers earned an average of US$900 per month. Following the measures, these workers are now earning $900.
This comes against a rise in the cost of living for a family of six to nearly $4 000 as of last month.
Government introduced austerity and fiscal measures to cut its excessive spending and fix the rampant cash shortages, respectively.
However, the effect of the austerity measures brought higher taxes with very little social protection and a re-introduced the Zimbabwe dollar as the sole legal tender despite being insufficiently backed by foreign currency or market confidence.
The result of these actions translated to an increase in cost of living as businesses sought to raise prices to cover the new taxes, while also catering for the devaluation of the local currency.