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

By William Milasi

Workers have once again renewed calls to be paid in the US dollars following the soaring of bread prices and other basic commodities.

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/commodity that has gone up, but virtually services and products have been silently going up. For instance a 20kg of maize meal that was ZWL $7 is now ZWL $15,” Moyo said.

The solution the ZCTU boss prescribes “is also to peg wages and salaries on a USD linked exchange rate, but first rebasing minimum wages at 600 USD per month.

“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.”

Recent weeks have seen massive increases in the prices of basic goods and services, as the country’s currency continues to weaken.

The shortages come at a time when fuel shortages are worsening,

A standard loaf of bread is going for ZWL $3, 50, up from ZWL $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.

Prices hikes follows civil servants salary hikes which teachers have described as useless in the prevailing situation.

“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,” militant teachers union the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) said in a statement.

The vibrant teachers union indicated that if government fails to meet their demands they are prepared to square off with the authorities on the streets, “as has become the norm.”

The teachers warning comes at a time when a pressure group #Tajamuka/Sesijikile is planning to undertake Arab Spring Type of demonstrations, in protest over the recent increases in the price of bread.

Miners have described the current situation as wage theft.

Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union (ZDAMWU) Secretary General Justice Chinhema in an interview said the situation is a squeeze to the miners.

“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 powers 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.

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