Zimbabwe - Working conditions

Since independence in 1980, the government has tried unsuccessfully to reduce the wide income gap between the rich and poor in Zimbabwe. The Minimum Wage Act of 1980 established a minimum wage of Z$85 (US$133) per month for workers who qualified under the Industrial Conciliation Act, and Z$67 (US$105) for others in industry. Minimum wages were set at Z$58 (US$91) per month for mine workers and Z$30 (US$47) per month for agricultural and domestic workers. In 1982, minimum wages were again raised.

Although minimum wages were subsequently raised several times after independence and real wages rose significantly between 1980 and 1982, they have fallen since. Attempts were made in the 1980s to introduce wage controls, but these were widely circumvented by private industry. The landscape has since changed and collective bargaining now appears to be the norm, although tight regulation of the right to strike action has provoked workers to engage in wildcat (a strike not officially sanctioned by a union) actions. Since 1997, however, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has gained prominence, organizing successful strikes against new taxes and levies in 1997-98 and pushing for an increase in the minimum salary to Z$2,000 per month (about US$36 at current exchange rates).

Growth in employment was considerably slower than the population's increase after independence. In the late 1980s, about 40,000 jobs a year were being created, enough to accommodate only 20 percent of young people who had left school to find work. The percentage of total population formally employed fell from 18 percent in 1965 to 11 percent in 1997. There have also been major

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Zimbabwe 20 10 21 3 15 9 22
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
South Africa N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Dem. Rep. of Congo N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
a Excludes energy used for transport.
b Includes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

sectoral shifts in employment since independence, with employment rising particularly rapidly in the education, health, and other services, while the number of people working in manufacturing has declined.

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