Mutare — Workers across the public and private sector are demanding a living wage pegged in United States dollars, as they claim that the minimum wage in local currency is insufficient to cover family needs.

Making oral submissions on the social economic rights at a Labour and Economic Development Research Institute (LEDRIZ) town hall meeting with workers’ unions, labour representatives said government should revise its minimum wage.

According to labor representatives, the government’s response has been to collude with business to stifle workers’ rights, which is tantamount to wage theft said the Energy Sector Worker Union of Zimbabwe (ESUZ).

ESUZ representative Hazvinei Katsande said workers deserve to earn a decent living wage as the cost of living is now spiraling out of reach of many.

She accused government and employers of colluding in a brazen wage theft against labour.

“Workers are not being paid consummate with the work that they deliver, because they are being paid in local currency and are forced to look for forex on the black market where the rate is higher.

“Everything now is pegged in US whatever that you want to buy, yet government workers are paid in local currency when even government itself is now charging in forex.

“In our view this amounts to wage theft and government should address this and start paying us a living wage,” said Katsande.

Ironically government has now officially started accepting US dollar payments despite introducing the official local currency pegged on an auction system by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

However workers said the auction system is an artificial as the black market and local supermarkets like Choppies are now paying ZWL$110, 00 for a dollar (US) while the RBZ rate has been hovering around ZWL$84,00.

For workers in the agriculture sector the situation has become dire. General Agriculture and Plantations Workers Union (GAPWUZ) provincial head James Goneso said to compound the pittances paid to farm workers government is over taxing these meagre incomes.

He said it has become unsustainable for workers in the farming community to continue sustaining the families with the wages because they are taxed similarly to urban workers.

“On the issue of taxes we feel that we are being taxed heavily, my salary is being taxed, even when buying or transacting we are being taxed, there is over taxation and its choking workers.