Workers Not Inspired by Minimum Wage

By Sanday Chongo Kabange

Zimbabwe, once considered southern Africa’s bread basket, had some of Africa’s best paid and trained teachers, nurses, pilots, soldiers, doctors, engineers and so forth.
But after close to 10 years of political instability and economic malaise, this has all changed for Zimbabwe. Many highly paid and trained professionals have left their beloved country for better offers.
The acute shortage of both the Zimbabwean Dollar and foreign currency has added to the suffering of many Zimbabwean workers. Unemployment has soared, and minimum wages for private and public workers have dried up as the Central Bank has none in its reserves. Workers have had to go for months without getting their monthly salaries.
Early in February 2009, there was a fresh ray of hope in Zimbabwe with the formation of a Government of National Unity (GNU) formed between Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF and Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC. Mugabe retained his portfolio as President while Tsvangirai took oath as Prime Minister.
Of the most interesting factors to workers is that the GNU allowed the Dollarisation of the economy – meaning the use of multi currencies was approved.  Workers who were not getting a cent were able to get US$ 100 as a minimum wage.
However, the US$ 100 translated into nothing when converted to basic necessities. Not wanting to see their members suffer even further, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) mounted a campaign which sought to press the GNU to consider adjusting the minimum wage from the government rate of US$ 100 to US$ 454.  However, The ZCTU-led campaign to have the country’s minimum wage increased has to date fallen on deaf ears.
Collation of wage-related data in the country has proved difficult. However, information regarding workers and wages is periodically collated and made available to interested parties by ZCTU.
The latest data obtained by My Wage Zimbabwe indicates that since the Dollarisation of the economy in early 2009, the country has had no official minimum wage.
The minimum wage of US$ 100 per month is only applicable to domestic workers or clerks in government.
It is estimated that some high-ranking officials have a minimum wage pegged at US$ 200 a month.  More senior government officials and those in private employment are getting a much larger figure – ranging between US$ 360 and US$ 500 per month as a minimum wage.
ZCTU has argued that, “although the battle for payment of salaries in foreign currency has been won, more battles lie ahead”.
A campaign message by ZCTU read: “We are now fighting for a LIVING WAGE versus the SLAVE WAGE that some employers have awarded their employees. Our survey has shown that the Poverty Datum Line stands at US$ 454 while an average worker is actually earning around US$ 100. ZCTU is therefore demanding that the minimum wage be raised from US$ 100 to US$ 454. This will enable many Zimbabweans who are getting their monthly salaries in foreign currency to meet their daily basic requirements”.
With such glaring, unfair and non-unified minimum wage rate, it would be of great importance that as users of this website, you take this Salary Survey. This way, you will help us help you fight for a fair and just minimum wage. If you are lucky, after taking any of our surveys, you might win yourself a minimum wage or a special holiday.