Workers, pensioners feel the pinch

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ZCTU president Peter Mutasa

BY MOSES MATENGA

WORKERS under the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) banner yesterday decried living standards in the country, which they described as “unbearable and terrible”, and worse than life during the tenure of the late former President Robert Mugabe.

On Saturday during Workers’ Day commemorations, President Emmerson Mnangagwa claimed that his government had ushered in a sense of optimism to the country’s workers compared to the Mugabe era.

However, ZCTU president Peter Mutasa quashed the claims saying Mnangagwa’s utterances showed that he was not in touch with reality.

“It is either the President is out of touch with the lived experiences of workers and the poor, or he is being misinformed. Life is terrible for workers and clearly the Mugabe era was far better for workers than this era,” Mutasa told NewsDay yesterday.

“His (Mnangagwa) government has implemented policies that hurt workers more than at any particular moment in the independent State. While we appreciate the fact that he remembered May Day, we would want his government to urgently address the erosion of workers’ salaries.

“Workers are enslaved and starving and no amount of words can change this. We need immediate remedial action that ensures that workers earn US dollars or US dollar-based salaries commensurate with how prices of goods and services are increasing. Without that his statement remains hollow and an insult to the suffering
workers.”

Farm workers also said Workers Day was meaningless to them given the paltry salaries they are being paid.

The National Employment Council for the Agricultural Industry of Zimbabwe said the lowest paid farm worker got a paltry $4 000, which is not enough to cushion them in the hyperinflationary environment and the dollarised economy.

Progressive Agriculture and Allied Industries Workers Union of Zimbabwe general-secretary Raymond Sixpence said there was need for the government to address the plight of farm workers whose situation was dire.

“They do a lot for the country and for the agrarian-based economy, but they remain ignored. Something needs to be done,” he said.

A pensioner who spoke to NewsDay said: “Been to the pension fund this morning, got the payslip. Net is zero. So what is happening is to those with funeral policies, the price is too high and if you have medical aid, you get nothing.”

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