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ZCTU calls strike as fuel price shoots up 40%
Caiphas Chimhete, The Standard (Zimbabwe)
May 27, 2007

AS the price of a litre of petrol shot up to $45 000 last week, the powerful Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions announced it would call for another nationwide strike in July if workers' wages were not raised to match inflation 3 700%, as of last week.

Lovemore Matombo, the ZCTU president, said the militant body would demand salaries linked to inflation,the highest in the world.

"We will organise a two-day job action in July unless the salaries are linked to inflation," Matombo said. Last year, as he and other ZCTU leaders prepared to stage a protest march against declining living standards, they were seriously "bashed" by State security agents.

Earlier this year, the ZCTU staged a strike in protest at poor wages and the continuing economic decline, which was only partly successful.

Last week, urban transport operators responded to the 40% increase in the fuel price by raising their fares by between 30% and 100%.It now costs between $10 000 and $15 000 for a single trip into the Harare central business district (CBD) from most residential areas.

But commuters from Chitungwiza, 25km from the city, now fork out $20 000 a single trip and need $880 000 a month for transport alone.

Other commuting workers from suburbs nearer Harare now require $440 000 a month for transport alone.

With 80% of the country's workforce reportedly earning between $350 000 and $500 000 a month, this means the majority of the workers will be working to sustain their transport costs to work alone.

The poverty datum line now tops $1,7 million, according to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe.

Abel Munesu of Glen View said transport costs alone now consume most of his monthly salary of $512 000 a month.

"For the whole month, I now need $440 000 for transport alone. It means I will be left with $72 000 for food, rent, school fees and other basic needs," said Munesu, who works for a printing company in Harare.

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