Workers at the state-run Zimbabwe Newspapers Group (Zimpapers) have declared “incapacitation” over salaries as low as US$150, the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) says.

The Union says it is disturbed to know that its members at ZimPapers, particularly the Chronicle, Sunday News, uMthunywa, and B-Metro have declared incapacitation to report for duty due to the meagre salaries that they receive from their employer.

ZUJ adds that what’s obtaining at the moment is that reporters at these publications are paid an equivalent of USD150 whose buying power has been eroded by the continuous inflation and price increases.

Read the rest of the statement below:

Our members are now unable to commute to and from their workstations as public transport operators are now demanding foreign currency which the reporters don’t earn.

Other challenges include severely understaffed newsrooms and a huge work load, no vehicles to take reporters for assignments, heavily curtailed data allocations, basic tools like pens and pencils and cancellation of out of station allowances.

Our members say they have tried to use internal mechanisms to engage with the employer for an amicable resolution to the matter without any luck.

The declaration of incapacity means our members will not be able to report for duty until their demands as listed bellow are met: • Salary increase to at least US$550 per month for the least paid.

• Retooling of the newsroom to ensure they are adequately equipped for the job. • Ensuring they have roadworthy and safe vehicles as they are deployed to cover their diaries.

The Union calls upon Zimpapers to seriously and sincerely deal with the challenges that have grounded the reporters considering that the economy has virtually dollarised making it difficult for those earning meagre RTGS Zim dollars to make ends meet.

We are in solidarity with our brothers and sisters at Zimpapers as their situation is reflective of the dire situation facing many journalists across the industry who are struggling to put food on the table.

In the fullness of time we expect a win-win situation between Zimpapers and its workers and what is sad is the reporters who have declared incapacitation work for the oldest and arguably the country’s largest media house which must be a leader and exemplary in remunerating and motivating its workers.

We also call upon Government as the majority shareholder to intervene and help the struggling workers so that the current impasse is solved for normalcy to return at company.

ZUJ Secretary General Perfect Hlongwane