The Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) has called for the immediate amendment of the Finance Act to qualify wage arrears and pensions.
Speaking during Workers’ Day commemorations in Kwekwe, ZFTU Secretary General, Kennias Shamuyarira said when the Minister of Finance enacted Statutory Instrument 33 of 2019 amending the Finance Act, he qualified wages arrears as debt.
He said employees who were owed wages and salaries from 2018-19 in USD were now being paid in Zimbabwe dollars at the 2019 prevailing rate of US$ to ZWL1.
This he said, was unjust as it eroded workers’ wages making them valueless since the exchange rate has moved to over ZWL 300 to US$1.
Shamuyarira said the Finance Act was now sacrificing workers to serve the interests of capital, which was now heavily controlled by monopolies and cartels.
“We have an agenda of that issue through the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) in terms of the enabling Act. In short, the Finance Act must be immediately amended to qualify wages arrears and pensions under section 4 (1) (d) of SI 33 of 2019 for them not to be affected just like any other obligations denominated in USD then and which can only be payable in USD at any time,” he said.
Alternatively, Shamuyarira said, the Minister of Finance must use his regulatory powers to enact a distinct Statutory Instrument which protects any wages arrears and pensions from the adverse effects of the Finance Act.
The said that same SI could also make it mandatory that there be at least a universal minimum wage to be pegged say at US$300 per month or at least the equivalent thereof in Zimbabwe dollars at the prevailing bank rate
“Without that, workers are going to be State enemy number one as they shall flood the streets demanding a decent wage. No amount of arrest will deter them,” he said.
Shamuyarira took a swipe at monopolies and cartels which he said were causing untold suffering to workers who were now finding it difficult to feed their families.
He said monopolies had created their own economic fundamentals and were now pegging prices higher than in the competitive market, affecting mostly workers who could not afford the prices.
“Monopolies enjoy monopoly power to, for example, pay workers their preferred wages and they do not care that the same worker cannot afford their commodities,” he said.
The ZFTU boss called for market concentration to dilute the present monopoly power where the monopolies employed only a few workers whom they exploited at will without any government restrains.
“In fact, this is also another form of sabotage to HE’s plea and mantra that Zimbabwe is open for business and no one is going to be left behind,” he said.
He said cartels were also colluding to create their own “Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) model in order to control the market and manipulate prices.