Zimbabwe Bank Workers Threaten Strike as U.S. Dollar Pay Call Denied

Peter Mutasa
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(Bloomberg) –Zimbabwean bank workers threatened to go on strike after lenders offered them a once-off 61% annual-pay rise and rejected their demands to be paid in U.S. dollars.

“Workers have rejected that as nuisance and will embark on numerous protest actions,” said Peter Mutasa, the general secretary of the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union, which wants staff to earn a minimum of $900 a month. Protests are planned at the lenders’ offices, he said.

The call to be paid in greenbacks follows similar demands by government employees and comes as the U.S. currency is mostly being used to pay for food, fuel, medicines and school fees. The value of the Zimbabwean dollar. has plunged by more than a third since September, and officially trades at 115 per dollar although the rate is more than double that on the parallel market.

Read more: Zimbabwe Dollar’s Second Death Seen as Only a Matter of Time

The pay hike will see the lowest-paid bank employee earn Z$41,782 ($362) a month, up from Z$26,000, according to the union. That’s far less than the Z$73,000 a family of six needs to survive based on data from the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, a lobby group, said Mutasa.

The wage rise is for non-managerial employees and is meant to guide the industry on minimum-pay standards, said Ralph Watungwa, the president of the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe.  “Individual banks are then free to decide on pay,” he said by phone from the capital, Harare.

The increment offered by the banks matches the December inflation rate, which is used to set annual pay raises in line with industry agreements.