THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has blamed Government for weakening the power of trade unions to influence collective bargaining in the private sector.
In the 2023 National Budget, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, indicated that employment costs including pensions in the public sector will be $2,2 trillion which is 52 percent of the country’s total budget.
Last year, employment cost in the public service gobbled 42 percent of the national budget.
On account that the Government allocated 52 percent of the fiscus resources towards employment costs this year, some economic analysts have said private sector employers should also increase wages and salaries for their workers.
But ZCTU president Peter Mutasa in a written response to Business Weekly recently, said this was unlikely, blaming the Government for promulgating legislative frameworks that have usurped the influence of trade unions in collective bargaining.
“All employers like all capitalists aim to maximise on profits. Therefore, none of them will be benevolent and start to pay decent wages without push factors.
“It is the Government that distorted the labour market in 2019 when it through a Statutory Instrument changed contracts and collective bargaining from US dollar salaries to Zimbabwe dollar,” he said.
“Through other policies, it also weakened the power of trade unions. As a result, workers lack collective bargaining power currently because of a combination of factors including the legislative framework and reactionary judicial decisions.”
The country officially ditched the multicurrency regime when the Government gazetted Statutory Instrument 142 of 2019, which restricted all domestic transactions to local currency terms.
As a result, most employers in the private sector are paying salaries in Zimbabwe dollar, but the labour market has been advocating for US dollar salaries citing that the local currency has failed due to its volatility against the greenback.
“The Government must legislate US dollar salaries. Everything else is now priced in USD except salaries. This injustice can only be cured by the Government if it legislates US dollar salaries,” said Mutasa.
He said the Government should legislate decent minimum wages adding that a minimum wage ensures that all employers accord decent wages to the poor workers.
“The Government must promote laws and policies that strengthens trade union collective bargaining power and collective action
“If these recommendations are implemented, then the labour market will be an engine for development and justice.
“Zimbabwe has been turned into a modern day slave yard. The salaries obtaining in most sectors are not able to sustain a worker and families.
“This must be changed as a matter of public policy by the State,” Mutasa said.
An economic analyst Ms Wendy Mpofu said while it is good for the country to have its own currency, the re-introduction of the Zimbabwe dollar was ill-timed.
“I think the re-introduction of local currency was hurriedly done given that the fundamentals for sustaining the use of domestic currency were not yet there. This is why we have all this currency instability and inflationary pressures cropping up.
“Authorities may say the country has so far attained currency stability but what remains to be seen is for how long is this stability going to be sustained.
“I think the country is not yet there in terms of achieving sustained currency stability and this is why the Government is also paying its workers partly in US dollars.
“The political system does not have confidence in local currency and that’s why it is trying to cushion its workforce from Zimbabwe dollar inflationary pressures,” she said.