Zimbabwe's construction workers demand pay rise
ZIMBABWE’S construction workers are demanding a wage increase of about five percent, setting the stage for a bruising fight with their employers, the majority of whom are struggling to find contracts due to a worsening economic situation.
This was disclosed in a memo sent to members of the Zimbabwe Building Contractors Association in which the organisation’s chief executive officer, Crispen Tsvarai, is canvassing for their input.
“Negotiations for the 2016/2017 wages review commenced in the negotiations committee of the National Employment Council for the Construction Industry in Zimbabwe on Tuesday 5, April 2016. The employees requested for the minimum wage to be increased from US$310,00 to US$325,00 per month, an increase of 4,8 percent,” Tsvarai said in the memo.
“Accordingly, the association requests you to forward your positions and opinions on the matter before the next negotiations committee meeting to be held in May 2016.”
The demand by construction workers for an upward review of their wages comes at a time when more businesses are closing while many of those that are still operational are struggling to pay their workers on time.
The wage demand also comes at a time when inflation has persistently remained in the negative territory.
The construction industry has been especially affected as the availability of construction projects is closely linked to the well being of the economy.
Only last month, the entire equipment and immovable assets of Bitumen Construction Services (Bitcon) were auctioned to settle a judicial debt, while another construction giant, Tarcon Africa, had its equipment auctioned under similar circumstances.
Another construction giant, CZL (formerly Costain Zimbabwe) was placed under judicial management.
The construction industry has been in the doldrums for the past decade and a half.
At its peak in the mid 1990s, it used to employ more than 35 000 people, but the figures plummeted to a mere 3 000 in 2009, and have continued to drop.
Players in the sector say the country’s Look East policy has not benefited them as most of the contracts funded by Chinese government loans demand that Chinese firms become the main suppliers and contractors, leaving local companies to come in as sub-contractors.
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