12 June, 2019With prices of basics changing every day, Zimbabwean workers are struggling to make ends meet. The recent devaluation of the national currency has further reduced buying power, and most workers are living in poverty.
Lameck Chineuruve, an artisan at the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company, has worked for the power company for 11 years and earns less than seven years ago.
“In 2012, I earned US$800 per month, but currently I earn less than US$200. This makes life hard for me because I must pay for transport, accommodation, school fees, and food, from this paltry amount,” says Chineuruve.
In February, the Zimbabwean currency was devalued by over 60 per cent. However, prices increased by the same value as they are pegged against the US dollar, while wage increases did not match the prices.
Poor wages in most of the sectors in Zimbabwe are one of the reasons why IndustriALL Global Union affiliates are campaigning for living wages.
In organizing drives under the union building project, young workers from the National Engineering Workers Union, National Union of Metal and Allied Industries of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Chemicals Plastics and Allied Workers Union, and the Zimbabwe Energy Workers Union emphasized the importance of joining unions, fighting for workers’ rights including on collective bargaining. They also said workers should be paid living wages that will cushion them against the devaluation.
Says Paule France Ndessomin, IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa:
“We are in solidarity with our Zimbabwean affiliates in their struggle for living wages and their organizing drives to increase membership. Union strength comes from organizing and participatory democracy. We also applaud the organizing by young workers who are the future leaders of the unions.”
With unemployment over 90 per cent and most of the population earning a living in the informal sector, the Zimbabwean economy is in the doldrums. Factory shells in the light and heavy industrial sites in Harare are deserted. Manufacturing and industrialization stagnated and has been replaced by the importing of finished goods.
The few companies that are still open are the targets for union organizing with the hope that when the economy improves the unions will also increase their members.