By Michelle Muchina
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) says the recently reviewed minimum wages for the domestic and unclassified industries workers are by far below the poverty datum line and will see many people failing to live decent lives.
Cabinet this week set the minimum wages for domestic workers as gardener ZW$160, housekeeper ZW$168 and childminder ZW$179.
These minimum wages are far below the total consumption poverty line (TCPL) of ZW$873 which was announced by the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstats) in March this year.
Total consumption poverty line (TCPL) represents the total income needed for five members of the household as a minimum for them not to be deemed poor.
In an interview, ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo said the minimum wages set by Cabinet are a clear indication that those who set the wages are not in touch with the obtaining situation in the economy.
“The salary review for domestic workers and unclassified industries are determined by the Salary Advisory Board (SAB). The board is composed of government employers and employees at the national level.
“The levels that they set are very low compared with the cost of living. That means they are living way below the PDL that will lead to many of them failing to sustain their families.
“The majority would not afford to send kids to school or take care of their loved ones who are ill or in extended families and even maintain funeral policies,” he said.
The set salaries if converted into United States Dollars at the current black market rate translate to a measly plus or minus US$10.
Most domestic workers come from poor backgrounds with some of them being orphans and school dropouts and are also breadwinners taking care of their families and siblings in rural areas.
In an interview, Chiedza Kadanga who is a maid in Greencroft (Harare) said she is currently getting about ZW$120 via Ecocash.
“I get 120 Bond Ecocash, cashing out is painful because of the overrated percentage rate. Thus the money I work is only enough for airtime bundles so that I can be able to communicate with my children in the village who are being looked after by my husband who is herding cattle for a living,” she said.
A gardener in Avondale who prefers to be called Bab Dephie said the money he gets is not even enough to pay rentals or school fees for his daughter.
“The money is not even enough for me to pay rent or send my daughter to a normal school so she goes to these random cheap colleges.
“The one-room I am currently staying belongs to my boss, he gave me to stay and we are just living to see the day pass.
“I’m thankful that my wife understands me and our situation and we at times work together in people’s yards so that we are able to put food on the table,” he said.