THE agriculture national employment council approved wage increase for farm workers of between ZW$195 and ZW$390 for varying grades, has infuriated unions who feel the adjustment was far below expectations.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
According to the notice released on Friday last week, the least paid worker in grade A1 will earn $195 from $135, while the highest paid worker will get $390 from $270.
The workers were represented by General Agriculture and Plantation Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ) and Horticulture and General Agriculture and Plantation Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe (HGAPWUZ).
Progressive Agriculture and Allied Industries Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PAAWUZ) secretary-general Raymond Sixpence described the increase as a joke. He said farm workers are rejecting the paltry increase because it is not enough to cover monthly expenses.
“The problem that the negotiators have is that they think groceries are everything that workers want. There are a lot of other expenses such as health and education that must be factored in. Even if we are to take the new adjustments, the money is not even enough to sustain a family hence we reject the new (wages). We also hope that the employers will understand that the minimum wage is not the maximum,” Sixpence said.
PAAWUZ organising secretary Philip Mafundu described the increase as an insult.
“Setting a minimum wage of $195 means that all the workers in the agricultural industry are the poorest yet they are feeding the nation,” Mafundu said.
“We want a living wage in the agricultural industry and employers should learn to treat workers fairly and respect their contracts. Again the collective bargaining has failed and our colleagues, GAPWUZ and HGAPWUZ must accept blame for this poor state of remuneration because they rushed to embrace the paltry increase,” he added.