Government, employers must act on working conditions

Zimbabwean workers are bearing the brunt of the economic malaise in the country and are the hardest hit by the runaway inflation which has seen prices of basic commodities sky-rocketing as the Zimbabwe dollar tumbles against the greenback.

The government and the private sector must do something about the working conditions, wages and salaries of workers, who have now been pauperized through poor earnings and lack of safety nets in pensions and zero social grants.

The National Social Security Authority (NSSA) must also seriously consider paying pensioners living pensions as what they are currently getting is an insult for people who have worked their whole life contributing to the scheme.

Majority of Zimbabwean workers are paid in the local RTGS, but because most service providers and shops are now preferring USD, workers are forced to change their money at the parallel market where the premiums are astronomical.

Majority of workers are now working under precarious conditions as businesses now only consider their profits at the expense of workers’ health and safety.

The poor pensions payouts are now forcing people to work to death as they don’t see any benefit in retiring.

The lack of employment opportunities in the formal sector has seen majority people, especially school leavers and women, turning to the informal sector for survival.

Most of those in the informal sector work under very harsh conditions, without proper workspaces which have ablution facilities.

Vendors are always in cat and mouse battles with the police who confiscate their wares on a daily basis leaving them with very little profit if any. The people are literally living from hand to mouth. Government should now implement the long promised formalization of the informal sector so that the people get decent work stations and facilities and are also able to access loans for the expansion of their enterprises.

Corruption in both the government and private sectors is worsening the situation for workers. A few individuals are benefitting from the country’s vast resources, busy lining their pockets while the generality of citizen’s wallow in poverty.

 The government’s policy inconsistence and bad policies have not helped the situation either, as they have led to distortions in the economy and continue to undermine the ordinary worker.

The future now looks bleak, with very little or optimism for the future as things worsen on a daily basis.  While the Zimbabwe dollar continues to lose value, workers’ salaries have remained stagnant despite the daily increases in prices of basic commodities.

At the rate at which the Zimbabwe dollar is sliding, we are slowly going back to the 2008 hyperinflationary period which led to the disappearance of goods on supermarket shelves.

The country’s political system, including the routine holding of elections, is not oriented towards workers. Political parties focus on economic development that has no growth, where the country develops while workers sink into poverty.

Government needs to consider paying workers in USD while it looks at steps to win back confidence and respect for the Zimbabwe dollar.

As things stand, the Zimbabwe dollar cannot be taken seriously when its highest note value is measured in US cents and cannot buy even half a loaf of bread.

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