17 January 2019

Zimbabwe: Zimra Engages Workers

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) is enmeshed in talks with worker representatives to locate lasting solutions to challenges faced by employees, who claim they are now struggling to make ends meet due to the recent rise in prices of fuel and basic commodities.

The negotiations come at a time the Zimbabwe Revenue and Allied Workers' Trade Union (Zimratu) wrote a letter to Zimra Commissioner General, Ms Faith Mazani, on January 13, 2019 indicating they were "incapacitated" to go to work due to high transport costs.

Zimratu president Dominic Manyangadze, said workers were demanding a review of their working conditions to enable them to continue reporting for work. In emailed responses, Zimra's head (of) corporate communications, Francis Chimanda, said the national revenue collector's head honchos were locked in meetings with employee representatives to find a way forward.

"Management is currently engaging its worker representatives to find ways to mitigate the challenges of the current economic situation to staff," said Mr Chimanda.

He dismissed reports that were widely circulated on some social media platforms on Monday that workers, especially at border posts, were refusing to clear travellers demanding a pay rise.

Said Mr Chimanda: " . . . Zimra remains open for business as a provider of essential public services."

Analysts say Zimratu, wrote its letter to Zimra Commissioner General Ms Mazani on January 13, 2019 so that the members' "incapacitation" to report for work, would coincide with the MDC Alliance and NGO-sponsored "national shut-down" which started on Monday and ended yesterday.

The violent "national shut-down", left a trail of destruction of property such as buildings, roads, tollgates, vehicles, and a looting spree of supermarkets, small businesses and vendors' wares, by armed bandits, who could not stomach the fact that people had largely ignored their ruinous call.

Said Zimratu in its letter to management: "We the Zimbabwe Revenue and Allied Workers' Trade Union (Zimratu); having collated experiences and submissions from our membership across the country, noting the concerns and grievances raised in those submissions and the recommendations thereof; concerned about the rapid deterioration of conditions of work of our members across the country and the effects thereof, inter-alia . . . most of our members are unable to report for duty with effect from January 14, 2019 due to incapacitation."

Mr Manyangadze said Zimra was providing a flat transport fee of $3 per day when commuters were charging as much as $10, while recent price increases have eroded "our members' salaries".

He further cited the charging of prices of some commodities in foreign currency such as medicines, as one of the for employees' inability to religiously report for work.

Government says it is aware of the challenges faced by citizens and manufacturers, and is working round the clock to resolve them.

On its part, Government is working on a package for its employees so that they are cushioned from the high costs of goods and transport.

President Mnangagwa, who is currently on a five-nation tour of Eurasia and Switzerland, wants civil servants be awarded a "cushioning allowance" that would be distributed equitably on a "sliding scale with the lowest grade receiving 22,7 percent and the highest getting 5 percent".

The intervention is outside of the salary increase negotiations that have already started.

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