Gloom as region marks Workers’ Day

A GLOOMY cloud hangs over this year’s Workers’ Day commemorations, as workers in Bulawayo mourn the death of industry and non-payment of salaries, a situation that has been deteriorating since 2008.

Report by Staff Reporters

Workers in Bulawayo, formerly Zimbabwe’s industrial hub, bemoaned working conditions, saying employers continued to violate their rights to decent work, decent wages and salaries and unfair dismissals.

It is estimated that in Bulawayo at least 20 000 jobs have been lost, as companies continue to close down or relocate to other towns.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) vice-chairperson Ambrose Sibindi said they were not celebrating Workers’ Day, but were using it to convey their grievances.

“We as Bulawayo workers we are not celebrating per se, we are trying to air our grievances to the authorities including the government for the economic meltdown that resulted in people losing their jobs,” he said.

“Some employers are not paying their workers or they are being given peanuts yet they are producing every day.”

Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe national coordinator Enock Paradzai said they will be joining the commemorations though they will be moaning and sharing their problems as workers.

“When considering the history of the workers in this country, we won’t really be celebrating because we have absolutely nothing to celebrate about.”

As if to highlight the dire situation of workers in Bulawayo, Marvo Stationery recently resolved to send its employees on three months unpaid leave due to financial challenges.

The company’s workers’ committee chairperson, Noah Marandu said instead of celebrating this day they were mourning, as their management was failing to give them their salaries backdated to 2009.

“Workers’ Day is rapidly losing its lustre here in Bulawayo because of deindustrialisation in the city,” he said.

“Instead of workers being respected and honoured, they are denied their salaries yet they bring productivity in the economy. As workers we should remain united and fight these injustices.”

At another struggling Bulawayo company, Pigott Maskew workers said they had nothing to celebrate today as Workers’ Day celebrations were pointless and had no significance to them.

“How can we be expected to celebrate the day when we are not getting our monthly salaries as a right and we are being expected to work for nothing,” said one worker. “Workers’ Day reminds us that we are now slaves in the industry and so we do not want to celebrate it.”

Yesterday, a strike by more than 40 Pigott Maskew workers entered its second day, as employees protested the non-payment of salaries, dating back to 10 months ago.

The workers told NewsDay that they were not going to work until the management paid them their outstanding salaries.

They said whenever they asked for their dues, the company’s managers would call people from the President’s Office, Ministry of Labour or police officials from Donnington to address them against going on strike.

The company’s human resources manager, Nomusa Ncube declined to comment on the matter, while the general manager, Joseph Gunda could not be reached for comment.

The closure of big companies continues also haunts the Workers’ Day commemorations in Gweru.

Gweru is a shadow of its former self, with companies such as shoe manufacturing giant, Bata, steel making, Zimbabwe Alloys and the country’s sole glass manufacturer, Zimglass either having closed down or on the verge of collapse.

Former Gweru mayor and Deputy Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Sesel Zvidzai has since taken it upon himself to revive the ailing industries in his home city.

Early this year, Zvidzai came up with an initiative dubbed Gweru Industry Revival Initiative (GIRI) to resuscitate industries in the city.

He said the lobby is meant to rope in players in the industry and other stakeholders to revive close to 15 big companies that have collapsed.

“We have a situation where big companies like Zimcast, Zimbabwe Alloys, Anchor Yeast, Kariba Batteries, Radar Castings, GW Minerals have either close down are on the verge of collapse,” he said.
“My lobby is to resuscitate these companies so that thousands of Gweru people left jobless can have their jobs back.”

A split in labour movement, ZCTU has further compounded the situation for workers, as factions of the trade union are concentrating on fighting each other, rather than for the workers.

“It is unfortunate that workers in Gweru are suffering with the collapse and closure on companies and today we celebrate May Day divided,” James Chiseko, a Gweru worker, said.

Meanwhile in Masvingo , police have now given the ZCTU the green light to proceed with marches planned for today after initially barring them.

The police last week banned the ZCTU from holding demonstrations on Workers’ Day, but the labour body, led by Nkiwane, filed an urgent High Court chamber application seeking an order to compel the police to grant them an order to proceed with the marches.

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  1. tendai chaminuka

    precise reporting this.the year you quoted is very very correct since 2008.the reserve bank thru its quasi operations tried hard to revive the industries under sanctions and it was beginning to yield results.when the inclusive gvt became operational it achieved nothing except to personalise its operations thru the so called clipping of wings which actually failed to revive any industry but achieved in dressing down individuals without any gain to the nation especially the workers at large.the economy has not improved in any way and it is surprising that the so called min of finance is credited for doing a spendid job.what he has managed to do is creating an environment which is conducive to capitalist manipulation at the expense of the poor workers.zim expected creation of jobs after the inception of the inclusive gvt for it has a lavour movement in it but alas the jobs are still part of a political blue print which shall remain so.

  2. Indigenisation is also a contributor. Chiangwa appropriated himself GND and it was closed within a year.etc.Fast track also is a contributor.Dunlop etc lost business and either scaled down or closed out.Of course and other factors both locally and globally.Sustainable development of livelihoods demands a transformation in the ownership and management of the modes of production, it must be systematic and methodical. A lost opportunity. A destruction of the little.

  3. What led to this decline dates back to 1980 and it includes a bloated cabinet which was putting unnecessary pressure on the fiscas, draining of resources by the unproductive parastals such as NRZ etc, government corruption eg Willowvale which led to the death of Cde Morris Nyagumbo, payment of gratuities to the war vets again putting pressure on the fiscas this also led to the free fall of the zim dollar. Land reform prog led to the decline in production in farms and unemployment. This also led to the deterioration of working conditions of farm workers. Operation murambatsvina had its impact on housing and employment. Political violence and hate speech gave birth to ZIDERA.The disappearance of proceeds from sale of diamonds is worsening the situation. The adoption of expired communist ideas from overaged politicians have made our situation dire.

    1. You are a contemporary economics commentator. My hat down.Of course this is by no means all, BUT ITS AN ILLUMINATING EXPOSITION.

  4. Workers have nothing to lose but their chains. How true.

    1. @baccossi- You my friend might just have said it not in as many words indeed, “Workers of the world unite, you have only your chains to lose a world to gain”..Could the world economic meltdown be the beginning of the sceptics who said on the onset of the industrial revolution ie Marx and Engels that Capitalists were bound to fail…the jury as they say is still out on this one. What can not be disputed however is the world needs a system that is neither socialist or capitalist but something in between more like a hybrid system (Sweden has such a system)..which can be shifted on the scale either to the right or to the left as circumstances demand. Capitalism alone can not be the answer and we saw socialism fall in its face, now the former is in its death throes. Just look to what is happening to the economies of those countries making up the EU, Japan and the US. There is turnoil all along the Mediterranean and soon this virus will mutate inland where it will sink the final six incher! The driver for this malaise can be traced back to vampire capitalists like the Enrons of this world, the international banking system whose reward system was down right cannibalistic. You had people managing these banks paying themselves compensation and benefits in excess of the budget of small developing countries..Question is for doing what? In poor desperate Zimbabwe this same breed of cannibals made short work of the national wealth with their ‘bank charges’ an appropriate euphemism for blood sucking. Ripping off the little man in main street and breaking his bones to a pulp has become a profitable and happy vocation for these ruthless barons. Our political class who should be protecting us have rewarded these fellows twice by making sure they stay out of prison (no caviar there?) so they and ‘them’ can hunt us down in packs( the more the merrier?).Of course they hide under the guise of the brain drain to continue with their excesses, brain drain indeed! These jolly good fellows, trained Dracula clones are literally draining the brain AND blood of everyone and everything. In their murky extractive world this passes off as normal. With average unemployment in the EU leader countries hovering above 25% and pensioners being forced to go back to work because their benefits can no longer sustain them, what you have is a cocktail for tears, NO? The decimation of Russian coffers during the Yetsin years have made sure that Russia will continue in limboland..the speed with which the thieves and pirates cashed in on disposal of state assets in that land can only be beaten by lightning for speed in the ”..pauperisation of mother Russia’… With their heads in a spin some Russian idiots are actually beginning to say the Stalin era was a good period. Of course whatever suffering people on ‘wide wet earth’ have endured it can not compare to what that murderous tyrant writ large pyschopath did to Russia and the world… If anything ..if there is anybody who destroyed the course of Socialism it is this 24 carat vampire imbecile . Solzhenitsyn sums this Georgian brute “Stalin thinks we should be grateful to him for allowing us to admire him!”

      Back home we have one half of government which pretends to be socilast and the other half pretending to be a worker’s party yet both of them are greedy vampires who seem to be engaged in robbing the common man aka Joe Everybody of dignity, stripping him of everything including his heritage. The predator class is taking no prisoners and the way they are going about things screams loudest, that capitalism as practiced here in this country would make Lucifer weep! And you wander how the seeds of the revolution are sowed. What is baffling is how fast the ZCTU has removed itself from the centre piece of workers aspirations and dreams. The ZCTU is travelling at breakneck speed into nowhere, perhaps they should let the workers disembark before they plunge us into the dark abyss! In the history of this great country there is never been a grouping of more useless men and women than even the government that pretends to serve us, and that is saying a lot. Where is their program of action? Wait for it…..they are sitting on it and hey, it does make a good cushion, No?

      Now schools will be openning in a few days, there lurking in the shadows is a group of robber idiots called SDAs who have been compromised by a thieving elite masquerading as school authoriites extracting teeth where there is none left, torturing tired gums in the process. No worry, they will extract the tongue next, what a bunch of pilot fish/piranhas? This, while the so-called Minister of Education and his ground dragging gravity compliant sack beliied officers cheer this ugly robbery on the side lines. And why not? Some argue that it has never been better for these Education officers who approve these usurous fees are getting happy hefty backhanders and they need wheel barrows to take the cash to their banks and their girlfriends..what a sorry mess!

      1. @Falcon May i remind you that time is a very essential component inn our life and it is a resource that everyone in the world, Zimbos included has equally and it is for free. It is the way you use that resource to make what ever you want including survival. So pliz may you save our time by making your contribution brief and readable. the one you wrote may take me the whole year and I doubt if ti make any sense. Time is very essential my brother do not waste it

        1. Point taken, brevity is the soul of wit. I was not aware reading my post would take that much time as make changes to plans people make for their day to day survival. Thanks all the same. That my contribution does not make sense is also taken on board, I will try and do better next time. Contributions should not take a year to be understood but a good grasp of the language is also helpful since most contributions on these pages are in a second language.

  5. NationalAnthem

    its a pity that Zim Industry is going to the dogs yet future seemed bright in 1980 and Zim was on its way to being the bread basket of Africa. Crdes what realy went wrong? Companies are relocating 2 ”ZIMBABWE” living us here in Bulawayo and other cities 2 scratch the surface with our fingertips 2 put bread on the table. What happened 2 decentralisation of resourses? Is Hre Zimbabwe?

  6. Phunyukabemphethe

    Gukurahundiconomics has never worked anywhere in the world. We need an Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) to get industry on the roll. Macroeconomic fundamentals are out of place, they are not supporting the supply side of the economy!!

  7. It is a sad story to read about the fate of workers in Zimbo especially in Byo and the small towns. I hope this is a lesson to learn for everyone. When we are ready especially the govt we will have to put our head s together and address the sad situation we find ourselves in. This is a hot potato and it needs urgent attention

    1. Perhaps we should not lose sight of the fact that ZANU are not alone in this..whatever their faults they are not alone in this!

  8. U have summed it all.Politics and economics go hand in hand.Most of the policies of the zanu pf govt were destructive right from the beginning.

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