Wellington Chibebe, the secretary general of the ZCTU, said: “Workers, get prepared for a fierce fight.”
He said although they had noted the adjustment made to the tax free threshold by Biti from US$160 a month to US$175, this was a far cry from what the workers were expecting.
Chibebe said workers needed to earn US$500 after tax to enable them to live a dignified life.
“Currently the average minimum wage is $165 meaning that the majority of the country’s workforce is living in dire poverty. To further subject such an individual to income tax given the fact that they are already barely making ends meet is cruel,” he said.
He said the ZCTU, however, noted with concern that corporate tax remained unchanged with workers being taxed more than corporates.
“This is contrary to what the ZCTU presented to the Minister of Finance on 9 July 2010 on the disparities between corporate tax and individual tax. Corporate tax stands at 25 percent while an individual is taxed at a punitive maximum of 35 percent. Companies are taxed on the profits they would have made while workers are taxed on gross earnings.”
“Companies earn, spend and then get taxed. Workers earn, are taxed and then only spend the little that remains. There is need for a paradigm shift because workers go to work in order to earn a living while corporates go into business to make profit. The ZCTU will continue to advocate for those earning below the PDL not to be taxed,” said Chibebe.
“We believe it is a matter of government not being able to prioritise – a cut in vehicle purchase and foreign travel will save treasury much-needed money. Government also needs to speed up the process of
dealing with ghost workers on its payroll. Money paid to ghost workers could also go towards improving salaries of the civil service employees.”
He said the ZCTU had observed that Government appeared to be “hard of hearing and uncaring about the plight of the ordinary worker”, leaving the workers with no option but to fight for their right to survive.
Biti did not award an salary increment to civil servants due to a tight financial squeeze as the government is failing to convince international donors to loosen their purses.