Earning just R600 a month, union says Zim state employees are too poor to go to work

Government workers in Zimbabwe can’t afford to go to work and may be forced to stay at home after surging inflation slashed the value of their pay by more than 90%, the main public-sector union said.

Zimbabwe is grappling with galloping price increases and a plunging currency that have spawned shortages of fuel and food. A currency devaluation earlier this year means that state employees who previously earned an average of $500 a month (R7 400 at current exchange grates) now earn $40 (R600 at current rates), the Apex Council Chairwoman Cecilia Alexander said in a statement on Tuesday.

As a result, some workers have become incapacitated and are having to borrow money for transport to get to work, Alexander told reporters in the capital, Harare.

“The council officially served government with a notification of incapacitation,” which may mean staff won’t be able to get to work, the council said. “We want to keep the system running, but we are urging government to create an enabling environment.”

The government in September offered workers a 76% cost-of-living adjustment to offset the impact of inflation, which has not been eroded by price rises, the council said. It proposed that salaries be adjusted in line with inflation.

Prices climbed 17.7% in September from a month earlier,the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency said earlier on Tuesday. While the country has suspended the publication of annual data, that rate is estimated in a range of 230% to 570%.