OUTSPOKEN trade unionist and secretary-general of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe Raymond Majongwe yesterday aaccused former MDC-T Labour and Public Service ministers Paurina Mpariwa and Lucia Matibenga of failing to defend workers’ rights during their tenure as Cabinet ministers.
Feluna Nleya/Christopher Mahove
In an interview with NewsDay ahead of today’s commemorations of the International Workers’ Day, Majongwe said union leaders had left out all MDC-T officials including former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
“The MDC-T ministers were a big disappointment as they shortchanged us during their term of office,” Majongwe said.
“I think I am quite happy that they (MDC-T ministers) lost because they never did any good for the workers, civil servants got nothing. MDC policies were liberal.”
Secretary-general of the breakaway faction of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) led by Lovemore Matombo said they would hold their commemorations at Harare Gardens and had invited Zanu PF’s Labour and Social Services minister Nicholas Goche.
“The main celebrations will be held at Harare Gardens and this year we are not inviting any politicians because they have previously spoilt our functions. We have invited the Minister of Labour and Social Services.”
Japhet Moyo, secretary-general of the court-recognised ZCTU faction led by George Nkiwane, said they would hold their function at Gwanzura Stadium with the keynote address set to be made by a yet-to-be named official from the Ministry of Labour.
“We are putting final touches to the preparations and there will be 21 places where commemorations will be held with the main celebrations in Harare at Gwanzura Stadium,” Moyo said.
“Obviously the number of places is lower and this is because a number of companies have closed.”
Asked why they had not invited MDC-T leader Tsvangirai as the guest speaker, Moyo said: “We invite government officials to come and give the keynote address and when we invited Tsvangirai, he was the Prime Minister of the country. we never invited him as a leader of a political party.
“Last year, we invited Thokozani Khupe because she was a government official. Our invitations also go to former trade union presidents and Tsvangirai is one of them. He is not invited as a leader of a political party.”
The commemorations are running under the theme Workers Intensify the Struggle: No to Labour Market Flexibility.
Meanwhile, Goche has revealed that the last five years had seen a steady rise in the number of workplace injuries, deaths and diseases, with more than 1 500 workers having died and 34 others killed already in the first three months of this year.
Goche made the remarks during commemorations to mark the World Day for Safety and Health at Work in Harare on Tuesday.
“The last five years show that in the year 2009, there were 3 122 serious injuries and 64 fatalities. In 2010, there were 4 410 serious injuries 90 of which were fatal. 2011 saw 4 158 workers seriously injured at work, resulting in 75 of them dying.
“2012 registered 5 141 serious injuries, 76 of which were fatal. The first three months of this year have already experienced 1 507 serious injuries with 34 fatalities. The same three months last year had
1 446 serious injuries with 33 deaths,” Goche said.
He said while chemicals were necessary in life, they were responsible for thousands of workplace injuries, diseases and deaths, especially in mining, manufacturing storage and distribution.
Goche cited the 1972 Hwange Mine disaster, the Bhopal disaster of 1984 in India and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986 in Ukraine as the world’s worst workplace accidents that involved chemicals on a large scale.
He implored the tripartite partners to work together in preventing workplace accidents as they were a threat to the country’s economic growth.
Speaking at the same function, Nkiwane called for the establishment of a Chemical Safety and Health Council, which the social partners agreed to at a meeting in Nyanga in 2002.