Workers renew calls for USD payments as prices of basic commodities soar

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By William Milasi


WORKERS have once again renewed calls to be paid in the US dollars, following in the wake of soaring prices of basic commodities including bread whose which went up 505 this week.

The solution workers argue is to have salaries and wages pegged on the coveted greenback.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general, Japhet Moyo in an interview Wednesday said under the present conditions life is becoming increasingly unbearable for the workers.

“’Bread is not the only product or commodity that has gone up, but virtually all services and products have been silently going up. For instance a 20kg of maize meal that was RTGS $7 is now RTGS $15,” Moyo said.

Moyo said the ZCTU still insists on its demand for a minimum wage of US$600 for the lowest paid worker as a starting point. The demand has however, been rejected by industry and commerce as “unrealistic.”

“If the 600 USD is paid in RTGs on the prevailing exchange rate that automatically takes care of the erosion of wages as a result of exchange rate,” the ZCTU secretary general said.

Recent weeks have seen massive increases in the prices of basic goods and services, as the country’s currency continues to take a battering especially on the parallel market which continues to thrive despite government’s valiant efforts to tame it.

A standard loaf of bread is going for RTGS$3, 50, up from RTGS$2 following a 50% hike in prices of flour and maize meal by the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ).

The RTGS$ is trading at 4, 9 to the US$ on the parallel market, leaving bakers with no option, but to adjust prices to remain viable.

Government began paying civil servants a 29 percent salary cushion that however has already been eroded by the spat of increases that followed its announcement.

“We urge the government to sober up and pay its workers in United States Dollars or the equivalent of the amount agreed in 2012.

“Government should realize that if they exploit their own workers they are setting a bad precedence which can be emulated by uncouth business people in the private sector,” the increasingly militant teachers union the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) said in a statement.

ARTUZ warned of unspecified action if the demand is not met.

The teachers warning comes at a time when a pressure group #Tajamuka/Sesijikile has also threatened rolling mass action against rising cost of living.

The Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union (ZDAMWU) secretary general Justice Chinhema his constituency is also feeling the squeeze.

“it is unbelievable that prices are going up daily in the process wiping the few cents given to workers as increase. As workers we are left only with one thing demanding salaries in USD which is a stable currency.

“We are also calling on the powers that be to urgently abandon the RTGS bond as it has only made workers to suffer,” said Chinhema.

Meanwhile, government has since ordered bread makers to reverse a 50% price hike.