Agricultural workers, who are among the least paid workers in the country, are to receive the new minimum wages of $23 070 for the lowest paid and $44 934 for the highest paid with effect from July.
The lowest paid workers were earning $11 570 while the highest paid earned $22 534. The wages only apply until the end of August and will thereafter be reviewed quarterly.
In addition they are to be paid allowances of $7 000 for accommodation, $6 000 for fuel, $5 500 for transport and $4 5000 for lights if these services are not provided by the employer.
The General Agriculture and Plantation Workers Union and the Agricultural Labour Bureau had reached a deadlock over the wages following recommendations from the Ministry of Labour and the Tripartite Negotiating Forum.
The chairman of the Agricultural Labour Board, Paul Retzlaff, declared the deadlock following the announcement of the new wages by the Tripartite Negotiating Forum.
He advised farmers to pay their employees a 20 percent “hardship or supplementary payment” as from June 1 until the dispute had been resolved, because “the livelihood of the workers is the employer’s responsibility”.
The lowest paid workers in agriculture were earning a minimum of $7 500 while the highest paid workers earned $18 400 with effect from September last year.
The Ministry of Labour had instructed farmers to increase the wages of the lowest paid workers to $9 500 from January, $11 500 from May and $13 800 from June. Wages for the highest paid were to be increased to $20 400 from January, $22 400 from May and $26 880 from June.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions said the minimum wages that had been announced by the government were based on the January poverty line. The ZCTU says the new minimum wages fall far short of the food poverty line for farm workers which stood at $45 282.66 in June, higher than the minimum wage for the highest paid workers.
Their wages are 51 percent of the food poverty line.