THE United States is concerned with the arrests by the Zimbabwe government of trade union leaders and interference in the labour unions activities, a US top government official has said.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
United States Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, voiced the concerns at the closing of the 108th Session of the United Nations International Labour Organisation (ILO) conference on Friday last week that started on June 10 in Geneva, Switzerland.
“The ILO has done important work in Zimbabwe, where security forces have committed acts of violence and harassment against trade union leaders. We remain concerned that government interference with trade union activity remains common in Zimbabwe,” Pompeo said.
Last Wednesday, US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Tibor Nagy, told President Emmerson Mnangagwa to hold to account army personnel involved in the killing of civilians during the August 1, 2018 post-election protests as well as in the January anti-fuel price hike protests.
Due to the falling value of the RTGS dollar, wages have been eroded by more than six times to date.
The cost of living continues to skyrocket.
According to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, the monthly cost of living is around ZWL$1 000 as businesses continue to hike prices because they source their foreign currency needs mostly from the parallel market at a high premium.
The parallel forex market rate was now at US$1:ZWL$12,4 as of yesterday.
Meanwhile, on average, monthly salaries range between ZWL$500 and ZWL$1 000.
Workers have increasingly turned to trade unions to fight on their behalf.
Currently, trade unions are assisting health, banking, energy workers as well as teachers to demand better remuneration packages by either going on a go-slow or partaking in a full blown strike.
According to the International Trade Union Confederation’s 2019 Global Rights Index Report, released on June 19, Zimbabwe is among the world’s 10 worst countries for employees.
In January, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions led a three-day stayaway in protest against a 150% increase in fuel prices resulting in the police and army being dispatched to quell the unrest characterised by looting shops.
However, this intervention by State security agents, apart from the 17 deaths, led to over 70 cases of gunshot injuries, 17 rape cases, beatings, abductions and torture, according to several human rights organisations.