Gardeners demand $150 a month

HARARE - Zimbabwes domestic workers are demanding minimum wages of $150 a month in a move that could see them earning as much as the countrys under-paid civil servants.

According to an e-mail currently doing the rounds containing information allegedly sourced from the Zimbabwe Domestic and Allied Workers Union (ZDAWU) and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the domestics want their minimum wage set at $150 a month for gardeners and $160 for cooks or housekeepers.

Currently garden workers earn $105 a month while housekeepers and cooks take home $110 monthly as per minimum wages agreed in 2009. The new demands would translate to increases of 43 and 45 percent, respectively.

Child-minders want their monthly salaries reviewed upwards by 48 percent from the current $115 to $170 while the largest proposed wage increase is that for minders of disabled children or aged persons who are demanding a pay hike from $120 to $180 a month.

An unnamed ZCTU is quoted in the email as saying the new figures have been agreed with the government and are effective from January 1.

But according to the Labour Relations Information Service, these figures do not have the force of law until such time as a Statutory Instrument is gazetted.

The proposed salary hike for domestic workers could trigger an avalanche of wage demands by Zimbabwes under-paid employees, particularly civil servants who currently earn an average US$160 a month.

Zimbabwean civil servants this month rejected an 18-to-26 percent salary hike from the government and gave the cash-strapped administration until last Thursday to improve the offer or face crippling industrial action.

The offer rejected by workers would have seen the lowest paid among them taking home about $160 up from $128 with the highest paid civil servants earning around $241 per month.

Transport and housing allowances were similarly slightly increased from $7 to $20 and from $6 to $12 respectively.

The Apex Council that brings together government worker representative bodies accuses the government of lack of sincerity and seriousness in addressing perennial demands by civil servants to adequate remuneration levels.

The minimum monthly expenditure for the average Zimbabwean family is around $502.

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