The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions says most employers are refusing to increase wages in the early months of 2011 citing serious economic difficulties.
ZCTU Deputy Secretary General Japhet Moyo said industrial managers have indicated that wages may only go up by five percent - and then not until September.
Moyo said this management stance has produced a deadlock in wage negotiations meaning more suffering for low-paid workers.
The National Incomes and Pricing Commission said various commodities have increased in price by increments ranging from one to 22 percent since December.
The commission said the increases were driven by big increases in prices of agricultural commodities on international markets and the firming of the South African rand against the U.S. dollar, which has driven up the cost in Zimbabwe of imported goods.
Moyo said such price rises will have a devastating effect on workers who are unlikely to get meaningful salary increases this year.
“This will be a disastrous year for most workers because they will suffer if their wages are not increased as they earn salaries that are below the breadline,” said Moyo.
Economic commentator Masimba Kuchera charged that some price increases have been engineered by selfish business operators.