Price hikes hit workers the hardest

HARARE – Nothing is more shocking and frustrating than seeing prices being hiked while you are about to buy something in that shop.

This happened to me last month when I went to look for a water-pump for my farm. Prices were literally being changed while we were conversing on the right pump to buy.

What is more disturbing about this whole situation is that nothing as far as our economy is concerned had changed. Retailers just woke up one morning and saw it fit to change commodity prices for whatever reason they thought was fit.

We as Zimbabweans are in the business of making one another suffer, instead of bettering our lives as a nation, we are busy pulling each other down. The best example is shown by the events ,which are happening. Prices are being increased for no apparent reason to an extent that President Mugabe was shocked by the chain of events concerning basic consumer goods and other things.

We, as Harare Municipal Workers Union, are concerned by the direction our country is going. If we can’t pull each other up as Zimbabweans then what are we doing as a country. Prices of goods should not just go up for no apparent reason. What’s the reason for such a change? It makes no logic that prices just go up, while no major company has raised their employees’ salaries. We applaud President Mugabe for his intervention concerning this drastic price hike. As a union in the Harare Municipal undertaking, things for our members are not as smooth as they seem. City Council workers are not being paid their salaries on time.

And, when prices go up they become frustrated and uncomfortable as this will compromise the wellbeing of our members and our country as a whole. Life is not easy when one is not getting his/her salary on time, it becomes even more difficult when basic consumer goods are no longer affordable. It means the families of our members will very soon go hungry. Fees, bills and other lifeline materials need money and it becomes difficult for one to priorities such things as the money will have been spent all on food and basic needs.

It is depressing to know that there are some people with money who are specialising in sabotaging our economy, making everyone’s life a living hell. With salaries not rising, it makes no sense for prices to rise. It is a shame that some manufactures, wholesalers and retailers are only looking after their interests not considering the rest of us. As time goes on, hunger will be the order of the day, as the money will not tally with the prices. It will be 2008 all over again, except things will be available, but the money to buy them will be scarce.

The well-being of our members depend on this. We urge the Government, the ministries of labour, and small business enterprises to put their heads together and come up with a plan that is best suitable for everyone. Employees will soon be reverting to usury once again.

This option is not sustainable. So we urge these ministries to create NECs for all small business enterprises, which will safeguard the interests of the workers, employers and our Government. A life of usury should not be lived by a worker. A life of stress and trying to balance things out with less money is not something that someone, who wakes up every day and goes to work needs. We do not wish that to happen, to our members and any Zimbabwean or foreigner.

The quality of service delivery will certainly decline as, for instance, if the City of Harare workers go without pay, are distressed and struggle to survive. This will affect them to an extent of not being able to concentrate on their work. Balancing the mathematics of life, buying groceries with rising prices, paying bills and school fees will greatly affect them. Stress related conditions will take a toll on them. Worker’s rights are clearly being violated and we urge our Government to do something about these price hikes as this issue will not only kill our economy, but us as a people. This cannot be allowed to continue because we are suffering.

Cosmas Bungu is the Harare Municipal Workers’ Union executive chairman. Anyone found guilty of hiking prices without any justification should be slapped with a 10–year jail sentence. These people should be disciplined as they don’t understand what the majority are going through. Our cooking oil should be manufactured using local products, instead of relying on unnecessarily costly imports, which has a negative effect on our country’s balance of payments. Cosmas Bungu, is the Harare Municipal Workers Union executive chairman. – Herald

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