Employers, labour unions clash

HARARE — Zimbabwe’s trade unions say they will mount protests to block proposals by business and the government to adopt productivity linked wages.

With the economy flatlining amid a deepening dollar shortage, government and business appear to have reached consensus on the need to change remuneration structures.

The government has announced its intention to change labour law which will among others make it easier for businesses to hire and fire labour.

But labour representatives ahead of May Day celebrations yesterday said the country was not yet ready for productivity-linked wages. Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions president George Nkiwane said workers wanted to maintain the current poverty datum line (PDL)-linked salaries, currently estimated at over $500.

“We are saying we need PDL linked wages. We need a living wage, one that can sustain an employee and a family,” Nkiwane said. He said the productivity-linked wage argument only made sense in an economy where production processes were in order.

“They are looking at one factor of production, which is labour, whereas in production there are several other factors,” Nkiwane said. “Until we set our production processes to internationally acceptable levels then we cannot link our wages to productivity.”

Nkiwane said it was wrong to penalise workers for issues such as utility inefficiencies, that were out of their control.

Head of pro-government rival union, the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU), Alfred Makwarimba called the productivity-linked plan a “right wing” proposal. He said as current wages were already negotiated.

“The call by the right wing force in the government to remove negotiated minimum wages, maximum hours of work and replace them with the so-called productivity linked wages must be fiercely resisted,” Makwarimba said.

“Wage determinations are already flexible and liberal enough.”

The ZFTU leader criticised huge gap between the lowest paid and highest paid employees.

He urged the government to introduce policies that drive economic growth at the same time improving the welfare of workers.

But Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) said production-aligned wages would help keep companies viable.

“We believe what we take home should be clearly related to what we have produced to ensure continued survival,” Emcoz director John Mufukare said.

He said if wages were not matched with production it would force companies to borrow at high interest rates to meet huge wage bills which was unsustainable in an environment with tight liquidity.

— The Source

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