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Zimbabwe Farm Workers Get a Wage Hike

Officials of the General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe said Monday that they have agreed with farmers to raise the wages of farm workers.

The agreement raises the minimum wage for general farm workers to Z$32,000 a month (about US$4) from Z$8,000.The minimum for workers in the more lucrative horticultural sector is Z$70,000 (about US$9).

The union said it has not yet reached agreements on wage increases for workers in fisheries and in the timber industry, but hopes to finalize those this week.

But despite the negotiated increases in farm wages, agricultural workers continue to live far beneath the country's official poverty line, which now stands at Z$566,000 (US$70) a month to buy the essentials of life for a family of six.

Union spokesman Jotham Mutemeri told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that his organization is already preparing for negotiations on wages for the second quarter of 2007, and has warned members to be ready to strike.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...