COVID-19: Private sector urged to cushion employees

BY Owen Mandovha

LABOUR unions have called upon the private sector to follow the government’s lead in cushioning workers in face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The threat of the Covid-19 pandemic and its ripple effects on the people’s general well-being saw the Government gazetting transacting in free funds as a mitigation measure and followed it up by paying civil servants’ allowances in foreign currency despite limited foreign currency reserves at its disposal.

With statistics showing that companies are now earning between sixty and seventy per cent in foreign currency, this has cast the spotlight on the private sector to cushion employees by including a forex portion on salaries.

Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Union (ZFTU) President Mr Kennias Shamuyarira expressed concern over capitalist tendencies prevailing within the private sector.

“This is a display of capitalism at its best. Almost all companies are earning in US dollars but look they are taking all and not leaving any for workers by just converting the foreign currency into local currency then pay workers in local currency.”

Newly elected President of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, Dr Tinashe Manzungu weighed in saying members of his organisation should be compassionate and not abuse the dual pricing system for their own benefit.

“The local currency remains the sole legal tender but Government was flexible to say let’s trade our free funds so I urge my members to follow suit and acknowledge the difficult operating environment and cushion their workers just like what Government has done to its workers in the public sector.”

Private companies have also been accused of invoicing in US dollars, but receipting in Zimbabwean dollars, thereby depriving Treasury of millions of dollars in potential foreign currency tax revenue.