Unions push for salaries in forex

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UNIONS have re-ignited their bid to have workers’ salaries paid in United States dollars, following the recent decision by the government to allow oil companies with access to foreign currency to sell fuel in forex, the Daily News reports.

This comes as the government is escalating its push to have the Zimbabwe dollar as the country’s only general trade currency within five years.

The de-dollarisation push is also happening as the local currency continues to lose its value against the US dollar — which has seen many supermarkets and other businesses demanding payment for their goods in foreign currency.

Speaking to the Daily News at the weekend, labour union leaders said it was “only fair” for employers to pay their workers either in full or half of their salaries in US dollars, following the government’s new policy on the use of free forex funds.

“Workers should be allowed to trade their labour in foreign currency as well, for the simple reason that they are the consumers of products and services sold in foreign currency,” said the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade unions (ZCTU), Japhet Moyo.

Similarly, the secretary-general of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), Raymond Majongwe, also said it particularly “made sense” for the government to pay civil servants in US dollars given the new policy.

“The government must concede that if it is not going to pay US dollars, it must at least pay us between 50 and 75 percent of our salaries in US dollars.

“This is because our rentals, medical consumables, fuel and many other expenses are now paid in US dollars,” he said.

The president of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Atuz), Obert Masaraure, said they had now abandoned their demand to have members paid US-dollar indexed salaries “because things have been overtaken by the fast tracked re-dollarisation of the economy”.

“It is only logical that all workers are paid United States dollar salaries,” he said

However, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya reiterated at the weekend that the country was in the process of moving away from the general use of the US dollar in the economy, to return to the sole use of the local currency.

He added that allowing fuel companies and filling stations with their own foreign currency to import their supplies directly served to stabilise the Zimbabwe dollar, while also promoting the use of the local currency.

“The transition to the exclusive use of the local currency is … a process and not an event.

“This means putting in place de-dollarisation milestones that take into account the realities on the ground that free funds are free to be used by their holders and that export retentions are still in place for use by exporters.

“This is critical to ensure that confidence is maintained and increased and that the local currency is not alienated,” Mangudya said.

“It is because of the above that free funds can be used to purchase fuel being procured by oil marketing companies under the direct fuel import scheme, without resorting to the foreign exchange from the interbank and or government. The same applies to electricity imports.

“Under these circumstances, the use of free funds for domestic transactions should not be confused as going back to dollarisation but as a pragmatic transition or approach to de-dollarisation,” he said further.

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