BY VARAIDZO MUDEWAIRI/ CATHERINE MUCHIRI
DEMANDS for United States dollar (US$) salaries have increased across all sectors of the economy as a number of employees struggle to buy basic commodities now being charged in the greenback.
Manufacturers of basic commodities are now charging their goods in US dollars for items such as sugar, milk, cooking oil and Mazoe orange crush juice, forcing retailers and wholesalers to follow suit.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Florence Tavuringa told NewsDay that the union would continue to fight for USD salaries.
“Since time immemorial, ZCTU has been and continues to be on the forefront in the demand for US dollar-based salaries. We will continue to demand US dollar salaries because we continue to have policymakers, particularly the Ministry of Finance, gaggling around their so-called business minds or theories at the expense of citizens,” Taruvinga said.
She said policymakers continued to promulgate policies that are not dealing with real issues on the ground, adding that the union was in the middle of consulting for action.
Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe president Demos Mbauya said the ability to pay salaries in forex was largely driven by a company’s ability to sustainably generate foreign currency.
“We have a dual currency system comprising US dollar and the Zimdollar. The ability to pay salaries in US dollar is largely driven by the ability of the company to sustainably generate the US dollars, taking into account other competing demands in the business,” Mbauya said.
“This debate regarding which currency to pay wages and salaries needs to be contextualised. In a stable economic environment, with a stable currency, that debate would not happen. We, therefore, need to locate the source of the problem correctly and deal with it at that level.”
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe tweeted: “Prices have gone up and retailers are demanding forex (US dollar), while the worker’s wage remains constant and valued against the devalued RTGS. We want our (US$)540.”
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe also tweeted that it was time to pay US dollar salaries as it is pointless to negotiate any remuneration in a currency whose burial order was being typed on the streets of Harare.
In a joint statement released last week, public sector unions said: “The government did not take heed of the call by the workers to improve the US dollar component and that the workers abandon the negotiating process, which do not uphold the constitutional rights of collective bargaining as enshrined in the national Constitution Sec 65(1).”