GOVERNMENT has gazetted a new salary scale for domestic workers who include housekeepers, cooks and gardeners with basic pay ranging from $900 to $1 040.
Domestic workers have since lobbied for salaries in forex.
According to the newly gazetted Labour Employment Regulation Number 20 of 2020, a gardener is entitled to $900 a month, a housekeeper, $945 while those who take care of the old and disabled should be paid $1 042.
These wages are for live-in employees as those who reside out of work premises should be paid an extra $200 for accommodation, $150 for transport, $50 for fuel, lights and water.
Gardeners will also receive $4,20 per hour while childminders get $4,63.
One of the affected is Ms Maybe Sibanda, an old woman from Mzilikazi, who said she can longer afford to work full time and would rather scout for piece jobs along Robert Mugabe Street and 4th Avenue.
“I have a family to fend for and honestly $945 is not enough to clear all that I have to pay for. I have since decided that I come and look for piece jobs on the road where I charge R100 or US$10 depending on the amount of work to be done on that day,” said Ms Sibanda.
She said it was better not to work at all than receive $945 on EcoCash.
“Things are tough and we are surely going to starve to death if things do not change. I sometimes spend the day waiting for someone to pick me before walking back home but that is better than staying with someone for the whole month only to get $900 on EcoCash,” she added.
Miss Nokulunga Ncube from Entumbane said the gazetted salary was not enough to cater for her basics.
“Money loses value every day and with $1 000 I can only buy pads, a pack of mealie-meal and 2kg of sugar for my family. This simply means I have nothing for upkeep and school fees for my children, it is pathetic,” said Miss Ncube.
“In a month’s time, $1 000 will not be enough to buy bread hence we are lobbying that our salaries be pegged in forex. I am grateful because my employer agreed to pay me R300 which is better though in essence is nothing compared to my needs.”
She added that the gazetted salary was in line with salaries but was not adequate considering the high cost of living in Zimbabwe.
According to Ms Tanya Manyawi, who is working in Emganwini, house helpers also deserved forex salaries just like civil servants who have been making such demands of late.
She said no amount in the local currency was enough to pay for the effort of babysitting and taking care of homes while employers are at work.
“We also have families to fend for and children to take to school and this gazetted salary is a mere joke. Already our employers are struggling to put food on the table and what more us, who rely on the same measly salary,” said Ms Manyawi.
“I cannot afford to send my parents food in the rural area because my salary can only buy a bag of 5kg rice and that’s all we are worth.”
Mrs Princess Ndlovu a teacher from Richmond said her conscience was against paying her domestic worker $800 on Ecocash but her salary made it impossible to pay anything more as she was earning $3 000.
“it’s always embarrassing to give another human being $650 as salary on EcoCash plus R100 which I decided to add after she complained she needed some cash. In all honesty, that money amounts to nothing but it’s way too much considering my monthly salary,” said Mrs Ndlovu. She said she struggles to buy the R100 from the black market but she must do it as she cannot do without her house helper.
“I cannot afford to eat a balanced diet in my house let alone buy toiletries. Something should be done so that we earn more and give our helpers a salary that restores dignity to their profession.