Zimbabwe Trade Unions Say Workers Will Protest Wage Freeze

Zimbabwe Trade Unions Say Workers Will Protest Wage Freeze

In Zimbabwe, where most businesses have been forced to downsize or close in a repressed economic environment, the country’s largest trade union organization is threatening worker protests, according to TheAfricaReport.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions said it’s mobilizing members to protest following a recommendation by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to freeze wages.

Central bank boss John Mangudya said the ailing economy cannot sustain wage increases in both the private and public sectors.

“Given the lack of competitiveness and its negative effects on the economy, we do not see any room for wage and salary increase within the national economy,” Mangudya said in his monetary policy statement.

Critics said Mangudya’s proposal was “anti-worker,” coming on the back of reports that most companies are struggling to pay workers on time and in full each month.

Most companies have sought permission from the Zimbabwe Retrenchment Board to fire workers, according to TheAfricaReport.

On Tuesday, Zimbabwe’s largest and most influential labor body, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, said it would mobilize members for protests.

The organization said authorities “made reckless statements without looking at the situation holistically and due to that employers have found a loophole and a finger to hide behind and are therefore not paying salaries and are averse to coming to the negotiating table to discuss conditions of service for employees.”

“The leadership of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, having noted the bad and unethical stance set by the mentioned authorities, would like to inform all affiliates that they should ready themselves for demonstrations concerning these utterances by authorities mentioned above.”

The labor movement is now working on dates for protests, according to TheAfricaReport.

The central bank’s call for wage freezes comes as the government amends the country’s labor laws, making it easier for employers to retrench employees.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions said 4,172 people lost their jobs between January and September 2014. Reports indicate that more could have been laid off had employers not been deterred by labor laws that make retrenchment expensive.