April 25, 2003

Minimum wages raised in response to hyper-inflation

Following days of strike action over hyper-inflation in Zimbabwe, the government announced that it had reached agreement with business on new minimum wages. The official The Herald newspaper reported that government and business, through the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF), had set new minimum wages ranging from Zim $23,070 (about US $27) to Zim $47,696 (about US $57).

Workers in the agricultural sector would now be paid a basic wage of Zim $23,070 and those in commerce and industry would receive a minimum of Zim 47,696 per month, The Herald reported. Not included in the new set of minimum wages were those of civil servants and domestic workers, and those in "unclassified sectors". The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), a member of the TNF, boycotted the final round of talks on the new minimum wages as it had organised a workers' stayaway to protest the impact of recent fuel price increases.

The government has condemned the strike, calling it illegal, and has threatened to take action against companies who "locked out" workers, and commuter bus operators who failed to run their services during the stayaway. But the ZCTU expects that the strike will increase pressure for economic reforms. Zimbabwe's inflation rate reached 228 percent in March, fuel prices have more than doubled and power cuts have begun to occur more frequently. (IRIN)

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