Zimbabwe: Wildcat strikes and unrest escalates

Under fire: Mugabe
Under fire: Mugabe

We have received reports that wildcat strikes are spreading across Zimbabwe as workers demand pay which will match massive inflation.

Submitted by Steven. on May 21, 2007

Eddie Cross reported on Zimbabwe's Nehanda Radio on Friday 18 May:
At this moment there are a number of wildcat strikes taking place throughout the country. Workers are demanding wages that will help them cope with massive price rises that have left them virtually in penury. Tregers and Advance/Spar are on strike for higher wages in Bulawayo and in many other industries workers are either adopting go slows or threatening strike action.

Industrial wages are totally inadequate for the average worker who now faces a transport bill of at least Z$400 000 a month, maize meal at least 10 kg a week at a cost of about $100 000 a bag and cooking oil at Z$50 000 a litre (if availabe). School fees and other incidental costs mean that a low income workers needs at least Z$1,5 million a month to survive. Wages last month were a third of this on average.

In addition to this problem, business is struggling with the hyper inflation and are finding it almost impossible to finance the replacement of stocks and operating costs. Almost all industrial and commercial firms are struggling to manage their cash flows. The dollar is depreciating at about 3 per cent per day and this is exacerbating the situation.

Just this week we have reports of food riots in the rural areas when GMB trucks loaded with maize grain arrived to undertake food distribution organised by local Zanu PF structures. They had expected the maize to cost the same as the month before (Z$17 000 for 50 kilograms) and instead were faced with new prices of nearly Z$200 000 per 50 kilograms.

The villagers who had in most cases paid Z$17 000 to their headmen for the maize, refused to pay the increased prices and demanded their money back.

There were many angry scenes and I understand the GMB vehicles returned to their depots with very little maize sold. At Z$200 000 for 50 kgs the maize is very cheap, even so the villagers are used to virtually free food and simply do not have the money to pay higher prices.

I am told that agencies distribution food in the rural areas are being told that no distribution will be allowed without the presence of a government or Zanu PF official present. The food situation in most districts is now desperate.

More information
Wildcat strikes in January 2007