ZESA employees demand 75% salary increase, threaten to switch off the country

As the majority of Zimbabweans battle to pay for electricity charges, workers at the sole power utility in the country are demanding for a shocking 75% salary increase.

The demand by the workers will almost double the power utility’s monthly wage bill from the current $22 million which will inevitably lead another sharp increase in the electricity tariff on the ordinary Zimbabweans.

The workers who are threatening to switch off the country’s electricity supply on Monday temporarily called off an industrial action over the salary demands when the company management declared their purported action illegally.

Apart from the unreasonable and shockimg salary increase demand the workers are demanding that they all be allowed a five-day holiday for six family members at any three-star hotel, full school fees payment for up to four of the employees’ children, “climate” and cellphone allowances.

Over and above the new allowances demanded the workers want an upward review to their current allowance, housing (15 percent), retention allowance (10 percent), responsibility allowance (15 percent), transport allowance (from $70 to $160), and canteen allowance (from $25 to $120).

The workers demands were presented to the power utility bargaining table by the Zimbabwe Energy Workers Union (ZEWU) and National Energy Workers Union of Zimbabwe (NEWUZ).

ZESA is currently amongst the highest paying institutions in the country with the lowest employee in grade A11 (a sweeper) getting $940 (gross), while a junior engineer in grade D2 is getting $4 900.

The workers retrospectives claimed that the demands by the workers are justified due to the prevailing economic conditions in the country.

“The macro-economic environment over the past three years has been on a progressive decline with the steepest price hikes being experienced in the last six months of 2017,” reads the position paper prepared by ZEWU and NEWUZ.

“The rise in the cost of living has continued unabated and has reached alarming levels in recent weeks. One of the critical factors, which has led to the erosion of workers’ salaries is the shortage of cash, be it bond notes or US dollars. To make matters worse, for one to access cash, one has to sleep at a bank and get less than $50 or get it on the black market where charges have escalated to more than 80 percent, especially for US dollars.”

“This undoubtedly has led to the salaries of workers being depreciated by more than 80 percent, as most of them have no access to cash and they will either use swipe or EcoCash price, which is higher than the bond or US dollar price,” says the workers statement.

The union accused management of bankrolling political activities and issuing free electricity benefit to all Ministry of Energy and Power Development officials at an “irrecoverable cost to the public.”

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