HARARE – At the heart of Zimbabwe’s economic conversation this week is a powerful plea from its workers.
At the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) Social Dialogue Retreat held in Victoria Falls, representatives of Zimbabwean workers have passionately called for salaries to be indexed in U.S. dollars.
This demand is attributed to the prevalent dollarisation in the economy and the existing exchange rate discrepancies between the Zimbabwean dollar and the U.S. dollar. This discrepancy has been causing distortions that negatively impact workers whenever prices are adjusted.
A Platform for Social Dialogue
The TNF retreat, which runs from Monday to Friday, serves as a melting pot of diverse perspectives. It includes government officials, business representatives, labor stakeholders, and international partners, and focuses on social dialogue for effective nation-building.
At this gathering, the voice of the workers is not just heard, but listened to. Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions president Florence Taruvinga emphasized the importance of decent work, sustainable salaries, and respect for workers’ rights, and urged the government to collaborate with workers on key policy matters.
Recognizing the challenges faced by workers, Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube stressed the value of collective engagement and the government’s commitment to rebuilding the nation and addressing economic issues.
He highlighted the significance of the Kadoma Declaration and the TNF Act of 2019 in fostering inclusive participation and economic growth. Public Service Minister July Moyo also underscored the importance of the TNF as a crucial platform for national planning and institutional strengthening.
Workers’ Wider Concerns
Moreover, this call for salaries in U.S. dollars is not the only concern of Zimbabwean workers. The Zimbabwe National Union of School Heads (Zinush) and other trade unions have raised concerns about the government’s decision to pay school fees in local currency, and the impact of the two-tier earning system on workers’ salaries.
Workers in the retail and wholesale sector are appealing to the government to exempt those earning below the minimum wage from being taxed. They are urging for a review of the tax bracket, stating that current taxation is leaving them poorer, and that the minimum wage should not be taxed.
They also demand an increase in the minimum wage and for tuckshops and unregistered traders to comply with paying their workers a living wage. The secretary general of the Progressive Retail Wholesale Workers Union of Zimbabwe, Phillip Mafundu, has urged the Finance Minister to revisit the issue of taxing, stating that it is not fair to tax someone who is earning below a living wage.