Gweru City Council workers have turned down a minimum basic salary of $2 550 effected by the local authority this month saying the earnings had been eroded by inflation.
Council increased the minimum wage in line with the statutory instrument (SI) that set the basic pay that was going to see the least paid worker taking home $2 550 with the highest getting $22 627.
But Zimbabwe Urban Council Workers Union (ZUCWU) Gweru branch deputy secretary, Thembinkosi Mulahleki said the minimum wage has already been overtaken by events and that workers demanded to be paid according to the current poverty datum line (PDL).
“That minimum wage was supposed to be implemented last month but we are now saying it is not enough,” he said.
“We have already set as a workers committee and this month we expect the lowest paid to get $7 900 according to the PDL. We have adjourned our meeting to next Tuesday and we hope by then the employer will have corrected the anomalies and pay a living wage that resonate well with the current economic situation.”
He said that council should also take heed of government’s move to increase civil servants salaries by 50% and award a non-taxable US$75 Covid-19 allowance to its workers.
“Government’s move should be applauded because prices are indexed in US dollars and we hope council will also follow suit,” he said.
ZUCWU general secretary, Kudakwashe Munengiwa said the SI which set the minimum wage at $2 550 was a noble gesture but that it had since been eroded by the prevailing inflation trends.
“There is need to be guided by the International Labour Organisation recommendations that the PDL should be used as a benchmark or reference point in determining minimum wages,” he said.
Gweru mayor, Josiah Makombe said when his council effected the minimum wage (of $2 550) it was complying with a government directive but added the new demands by workers would financially burden the already cash-strapped municipality.
He however said council would continue negotiating with workers in order to strike a balance between improving their working conditions and giving service delivery to stakeholders.
“They (workers) are right when they refer to the PDL in determining the minimum wage but most councils are incapacitated,” said Makombe.
“But what is important is to continue engaging with the workers so that if we generate more revenue we can also pay them and in this regard we urge ratepayers to honour their obligations.”
Makombe said in the 2020 budget council had already budgeted for a salary increase but blamed the hyper-inflationary environment of eroding such commitments.
“But as I said before we will continue negotiating with workers and make sure that service delivery is not compromised,” he said.