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Tea sector wage dispute heads for arbitration

THE wage dispute between employers and workers in the tea sector is set to go for arbitration as workers fight to prevent companies from reducing their wages from the current $95 to $72.


Employers, who include Tanganda Tea Company and Southdown Holdings Ltd, have cited operational difficulties caused by the harsh economic environment as reason to push the wages down, a source who is part of the negotiations revealed.

“We have met three times with employers and they are citing the difficult economic environment as the reason they want to reduce workers’ salaries but we have said they must at least maintain the minimum wage,” a source involved in the discussions revealed. “We are now going for conciliation which will then lead to arbitration and we are now waiting for the date from the chairman of our national employment council.”

Workers and employers in the timber sector are also inching towards arbitration as employers seek to reduce employees’ minimum wage from the current $150 to $105.

Employers in the timber sector include Allied Timbers, Border Timbers and Wattle Company.

“There has been no agreement between employers and workers in the timber sector,” an insider said “We are likely to meet once more and if we fail to agree then we will go for arbitration.”

Meanwhile, more than 1 000 farm workers have lost their jobs since February due to a new wave of farm invasions in various parts of the country.

New invasions have reportedly erupted again in Matabeleland where some white farmers are on the verge of losing their farms to land invaders.

“More than 1 000 workers have been affected by renewed farm invasions across the country,” a senior official at the General Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe said last week.

The number of farm workers in Zimbabwe has declined from more than half a million in 2000 when land reform began, to less than 20 000 currently.

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