Sunday, 29 September 2019

THESE ARE STARVATION WAGES : DOMESTIC WORKERS


Domestic workers have described the minimum wages approved by Government a fortnight ago as starvation wages that make it impossible for them to access basic services.

Zimbabwe Domestic and Allied Workers Union deputy secretary-general Mr Toindepi Dhure said the new wages need to be revisited.

“So what we have actually legislated is that domestic workers can no longer send their children to school; they cannot access health services. We appreciate the challenges in our economy. Government is trying its level best, but legislating such wages is something they need to revisit and correct,” he said. 

The new wage structure sets the minimum wage for gardeners, housekeepers and child minders at $160, $168 and $179 respectively.

A disabled minder who holds a Red Cross certificate or equivalent is now entitled to get $189.

Domestic workers who are not accommodated at their workplace will receive a minimum allowance of $60, transport allowance $50 (based on Zupco fares) and $20 for both lighting and water.

Government, Mr Dhure said, has to come up with a legislative framework that protects vulnerable members of society. 

Gender Links Zimbabwe country manager Ms Priscilla Maposa said Zimbabwe’s Constitution is one of the best on the continent in protecting domestic workers.

“Zimbabwe as a country is signatory to a number of laws and protocols. If you look at our Constitution, it is one of the best in trying to promote gender equality and address those areas where women were previously discriminated, but on this one (issue of domestic workers’ wages) I think as a nation we need to sit down and rethink,” she said.

Ms Rejoice Timire, executive director of Disabled Women Support Organisation, told The Sunday Mail that pitiable wages were doubly tragic for disabled domestic workers who are often taken advantage of.

She added that domesticating conventions such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities into local laws might be helpful.

“In countries like South Africa, where such conventions have been domesticated, disabled individuals qualify for grants, which then cushion low wages either for the disabled caregiver or the disabled employer receiving care,” said Ms Timire. Sunday Mail

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