Strikes feared as wage talks collapse

lovemore_matomboHARARE - Zimbabwean companies should brace themselves for a fresh season of strikes after the collapse of weekend talks between the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and the Employers' Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ). (Pictured: - Lovemore Matombo, ZCTU president, has warned that strike action may ensue)

The ZCTU said a retreat held in Kadoma last Friday and Saturday by the labour federation and EMCOZ ended inconclusively as the two sides failed to hammer a deal on how to implement the proposed wage negotiation framework.

ZCTU president, Lovemore Matombo, told ***The Zimbabwean that the workers’ body had proposed a three-stage implementation plan that would have seen the country’s minimum wage gradually adjusted to match the poverty datum line (PDL) by 2011.

“We had proposed that there be a 60 per cent increase this year for those companies whose wages have not yet reached 60 per cent of the poverty datum line of US$490 a month. Our suggestion was that there be a gradual increase in the wages over the next two or three years until wages match the poverty datum line by 2011,” Matombo said.

The ZCTU suggestion would have seen companies raising their wages to 80 per cent of the PDL in 2010 before matching the cost of living in 2011.

Matombo said his federation’s proposal was meant to reduce systemic shocks to the already struggling local firms which are still smarting from nearly a decade of undercapitalisation and low production.

The ZCTU chief observed that a phased wage bargaining implementation would have afforded the hamstrung Zimbabwean companies “the opportunity to plan ahead and improve their competitiveness” while also improving the predictability of government revenue inflows over the next two years.

A bilateral committee involving representatives of labour and the employers’ body had been proposed by ZCTU to assist companies that fail to meet the new wage thresholds.

Matombo said EMCOZ had initially agreed to a 40 per cent PDL threshold for this year but later shifted its position.

“The EMCOZ proposal would have translated to minimum wages of about US$250 a month. But after the final session they reneged from that commitment,” said Matombo.

EMCOZ was not available for comment on the matter.

Matombo warned of impending strikes during the coming months as Zimbabwean workers pressed for decent wages.

“We have gone back to square one and workers have to mobilise themselves for real action because if they don’t do that they will continue with the current slave wages,” the labour chief said.

The average wage for Zimbabwean workers is currently around US$150 a month.

Post published in: Economy

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