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Zim’s tax collector, bankers down tools as living costs skyrocket

Jan 14 2019 20:30
Crecey Kuyedzwa, Fin24

Workers belonging to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and Allied Workers Trade Union (ZIMRATU) as well as those from the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union (ZIBAWU), have downed tools, saying their members are unable to report for duty due to incapacitation amid skyrocketing prices. 

They join thousands of other employees that were voluntarily absent, or forced not to turn up for work, amid calls for a three-day stay-away led by the country's biggest labour body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). 

The protest action was scheduled to last from Monday until Wednesday. 

The move by unions comes a few days after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a 150% hike in fuel prices, as a measure to deal with crippling fuel shortages that hit the country in recent months. 

In a letter addressed to Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA)'s Commissioner General Faith Mazani, ZIMRATU said submissions from its membership across the country had shown most of them were incapacitated to continue with their duties due to systematic erosion of the value of their salaries. 

"The bus fare to work is $10 (bond notes) return trip against $3 (bond notes) return trip being paid by the employer," said the letter, which also referenced a sharp rise in the prices of basic commodities and transport fares, amid static salaries which had declined in value.

Zimbabwe's inflation figures stood at 31% in November, their highest since dollarisation. December inflation figures are expected this week, and are likely to be higher than the November period, according to analysts. 

"For the above reasons, the workers can no longer virement funds to subsidise the employer on transport," said ZIMRA. 

For its part, ZIBAWU said it was concerned about the skyrocketing prices of basic goods and the impact on its membership. "In fact, workers do not have money for transport and cannot borrow to fund same. 

"We thus declare that resultantly, with effect from 14th January, most of our members will not be able to report for duty under current circumstances," said ZIBAWU. 

The Zimbabwean government has said its measures are necessary, as they are intended to deal with its huge budget and trade deficit. It recently introduced a 2% tax that was blasted by critics as worsening the cost of doing business and weakening consumer buying power. 

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