Under-pressure local companies — reeling from myriad problems which include having to deal with soaring production costs — have rejected demands by unions to pay their employees in United States dollars.
The demands to have employees paid in hard currency comes as Zimbabwe is experiencing a severe economic crisis — characterised by acute shortages of foreign currency which have in turn led to shortages of drugs and basic consumer goods.
“Our position as employers is that every competent employer wants to do the best they can for their workers.
“However, and in this situation that we find ourselves in, it would be hard for all employers to do so, except for exporters who are able to get their returns in foreign currency.
“If I am selling on the local market and being paid in bond notes, how on earth do I get the US dollars to pay my workers with,” John Mufukare, the executive director of the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) told the Daily News yesterday.
“Let it be up to each enterprise to discuss with their workers about this and find out whether they can pay in foreign currency or not,” he added.
But workers’ representative body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), is demanding that all workers be paid in US dollars despite the current economic challenges.
ZCTU president Peter Mutasa said yesterday that workers no longer wanted to be paid in bond notes and RTGS transfers.
“We have always been consistent that we do not want bond notes and this is a continuation of our demand.
“The call is now more urgent because workers are losing out and prices have skyrocketed and most goods and services are now charged in US dollars,” Mutasa told the Daily News.
Zimbabwe is currently in the grip of a huge economic crisis which President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government are battling to get on top of — as their new policy measures have not found resonance with long-suffering Zimbabweans.
Zimbabwe adopted a multi-currency regime in 2009 during the short-lived but stability-inducing GNU which ousted former leader Robert Mugabe entered into with the late popular opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, to end a political crisis that had stemmed from the hotly disputed 2008 presidential elections.
However, since the end of the GNU in 2013 and the removal of Mugabe from power last year, the government has yet to find the right formula to end shortages of foreign currency and to re-invigorate the sickly local economy.