For any country’s economy to grow, workers play a major role as they provide the much-needed labor. But in Zimbabwe, some workers say they are not happy with the way they are being remunerated in a nation gripped by poverty.
Year after year, Zimbabwean workers complain of poor remuneration and working conditions. Japhet Moyo, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions or ZCTU, says this has become the order of the day.
General secretary of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Raymond Majongwe, echoes the same sentiments.
Obert Masaraure, president of the Zimbabwe Rural Teachers Union, complains too that top government officials are living large while the majority of civil servants are struggling to make ends meet.
Tapiwa Mashakada, an economist and national executive member of the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, says there is no political will to address economic problems and workers’ challenges in Zimbabwe.
Mashakada adds that workers will stop complaining when the economy improves and people are able to sustain their lives.
Social commentator Takura Zhangazha argues that the government must respect its social contract with the people of Zimbabwe by ensuring that workers are adequately paid as most of them are living below the poverty datum line of almost $540 per month for a family of six.
According to Moyo, it has been a long time since tripartite negotiations were held between government, business and labor.
He says this has led to the current poor working conditions and low workers’ salaries.
Moyo says the majority of Zimbabwean workers are now finding it difficult to protest against low salaries and working conditions because most of them are contractors.
He believes that there is an onslaught against workers coming from the business sector and government.
Studio 7 failed to get a comment from the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe. But for its part, government says it is doing all it can to address workers’ concerns.
Labor Minister Prisca Mupfumira says processes are underway to ensure that the tripartite negotiations are legislated.
Meanwhile, it is uncertain that workers will get bonuses this year following a clash over 13th cheques between President Robert Mugabe and Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who announced a short-lived two-year blockage of these payouts.
Chinamasa was publicly rebuked by Mr. Mugabe, who indicated that his minister made an announcement without consulting cabinet and the country’s executive arm of the government.
The 13th cheque normally boosts workers’ morale in a nation that is experiencing depressed growth due to various factors, including lack of foreign direct investment.