Zimpost employees in Bulawayo and Harare on Wednesday downed tools over poor salaries and unfair labour practices.

The workers picketed at the Main Post Offices in the two cities demanding a salary hike and payment of outstanding salaries and bonuses.

The protesting workers described their poor remuneration as unfair labour treatment by company management and an insult to them and their families.

Zimpost workers said for over two years, the postal services provider has been paying them half salaries and has also failed to pay bonuses since 2014.

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Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, Communication and Allied Service Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe general secretary David Mhambare said they had tried to engage stakeholders, but their efforts were futile and they had to communicate through a stay-in.

“We are taking home $200; that’s not enough to feed our families. It is not even enough to send one child to school. So, we are saying we have tried, we engaged the minister (Information Communication Technology Kazembe Kazembe), we have engaged the new board, we have even written to the employment council, but Zimpost has been refusing to burge,” he said.

“We are incapacitated. We are not on strike. We are simply saying we do not have money to go back home. This is our second home we are sleeping here until a solution is found to our problems.”

Mhambare said they were demanding a living wage from their employer.

“We don’t want luxurious salaries. We are not demanding much. We are demanding a living wage. We certainly know that the company is going through a difficult time, but we would appreciate if the company could give people a living wage,” he said.

Bulawayo regional workers’ committee chairperson Sikhawuliso Zondo said they want management to increase their salaries urgently.

“We are trying to force management to adhere to their promises. For instance, they can increase our $300 salaries to about $2 000 which is above the poverty datum line. We are now even afraid to go to church because we cannot pay tithes,” Zondo said.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a worker from Bulawayo said: “This is an insult to us. We will sleep here if that helps our cause. We are languishing in poverty and they must know that they cannot simply generate revenue through cheap labour because we are not slaves.

“We cannot be getting $300 every month and be expected to take care of our family needs. We have children who go to school and rentals to pay.”

Another worker also said their salaries did not allow them to invest or save.

“We need to invest for our children who will become our future leaders in years to come,” he said.

“It’s been years now since we have been getting our salaries in halves. They also do not pay everyone at once, but they use the pay grading system which disadvantages others. We have not been paid our September salaries,” a worker in Harare said.

A circular to the Zimpost workers signed by acting managing director Sifundo Moyo said proposals to cushion workers and pay their September salaries were awaiting approval and management had only reviewed transport allowances.

“To cushion employees from the increase in transport costs, management has with immediate effect reviewed upwards the transport subsidy. Commuting staff will be paid $10 per day from $6 while none-commuting will be paid $2,50 a day from 1,50,” he wrote.

Since January, the cost of living has skyrocketed with medical and funeral insurance fees, kombi fares, fuel and electricity tariffs going up as the local currency continues to weaken against the benchmark United States dollar, piling more misery on workers.

Another employee said a plate of sadza which they buy at the company’s canteen has also gone up from $3 to $4,50 yet their salaries remain stagnant.