Most Zimbabwean workers are earning salaries well beneath the so-called poverty datum line set by the National Statistical Agency at US$467 dollars a month in December and the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe's basket price of US$503 dollars for January.
Disgruntled civil servants are demanding a rise in salaries to a monthly level of US$503 for the lowest-paid workers in keeping with the consumer basket. the government says it cannnot afford such pay levels and must leave the base rate at US$186 monthly.
The Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency determines the poverty datum line whereas the consumer basket is calculated by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe.
Economist Prosper Chitambara of the Labor and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe told VOA reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that it will be very difficult for most companies to meet worker wage demands in the current climate.
Deputy Secretary General Japhet Moyo of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions told VOA Studio 7 reporter Brenda Moyo that the discrepancy between the two cost-of-living figures is that the poverty datum line is based on the monthly requirements of a family of five while the consumer basket estimates the needs of a family of six.
Pastor Robert Matumba of Gweru, Midlands, said he relies upon vegetables from his own garden to feed his family as the living cost climbs. He told Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye his family needs about US$600 a month but that is beyond his reach.