Workers in Zimbabwe today join the rest of the world in celebrating Workers’ Day amid growing concern over their welfare as the economy continues on its downward spiral.
by VENERANDA LANGA
The main labour movement, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), will hold its celebrations at Gwanzura Stadium under the theme Workers Under Siege — Arise and Fight On.
ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo said MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai would always remain one of their main attractions on Workers’ Day despite concerns that the union had been politicised.
Moyo said the celebrations would unpack how Zimbabwean workers’ gains had been reversed since Independence in 1980 and encourage people to fight job losses and company closures.
“Our celebrations will be graced by church organisations, trade union veterans, civic society organisations, including people who have led ZCTU before like Tsvangirai no matter what people say about his current status as the opposition leader,” Moyo said.
“The reason why we settled for the theme is to talk about the current environment in view of recent statements by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa on salaries and bonuses, and the statements by Zimra commissioner-general Gershem Pasi on company closures and retrenchments.”
He added: “Workers are under siege and there is an attack on workers’ achievements which we feel have been reversed since independence by labour market flexibility, where we are now returning to the Masters and Servants Act of 1901 where economic opportunities for workers were narrowed.”
Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) main celebrations will be at Stanley Square in Bulawayo under the theme Workers United, More Informed and Ready To Embrace ZimAsset Programme.
“The message is very clear this year that in as far as we are going to embrace ZimAsset, we are not going to be dictated upon by the politicians, and that we are going to input in it and demand a stake in the remaining companies which are led by neo-liberals and diehard capitalists,” ZFTU secretary-general Kenias Shamuyarira said.
He said they wanted to see a cut in the number of ministers in Cabinet, instead of retrenchment in the civil service.
“This is a hard-hitting message; we will call on the President to review his Cabinet. Those ministers not performing in line with ZimAsset must be retired and replaced with competent people,” Shamuyarira said.
The Committee of the People’s Charter (CPC) in a statement said they were concerned about government’s intention to legislate Labour Flexibility which will link remuneration to productivity, making it easier for employers to hire and fire workers and fundamentally reduce all employment to casual labour.
“If implemented, this will erode employee rights as new capital and foreign investors, especially Chinese, would literally reduce local labour into slaves as workers will simply be fired or only hired on short-term contracts, thus denying them social protection in their old age,” CPC said in the statement.