THE ZIMBABWE Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) says the country today commemorates Workers’ Day under difficult conditions with the plight of workers having worsened compared to the previous year.
ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo said the centres where commemorations would be held to mark the day would be reduced by 10 due to job losses and company closures.
“We will meet and take stock of challenges that the workers are facing and what has been done.
“This year there will be 20 centres to mark the day unlike last year’s 30,” he said.
“This is because some workers charged with organising this event lost their jobs in the last year as companies closed.
“Some of the corporates which were donating towards this event also closed.”
Moyo said affiliate workers’ unions had declared a decrease in membership “and it won’t be surprising that there would be less people commemorating the day tomorrow (today)”.
The Zimbabwe Amalgamated Railway Workers’ Union general secretary Gideon Shoko said whereas the day was meant to celebrate the worker, National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) employees were slowly moving towards slavery.
“The day is supposed to be about victories for workers. It is meant to be a happy day, but there is nothing to celebrate. There is retrogression in the railways and workers are going back to slavery,” he said.
Shoko said NRZ owed workers outstanding salaries for 10 months “and we wonder how they are surviving with their families. This is a bad year for workers and the celebrations came at a bad time”.
A representative of Marvo Stationery Manufacturers’ workers, Mbonisi Gumbo, echoed Shoko’s sentiments saying employees had gone for 16 months without pay.
“The situation is still the same. We have gone for 15 months without getting salaries, come tomorrow (today) it will be 16 months because there are indications that people will not be paid,” he said.
He urged the government to investigate companies that benefited from Dimaf (Distressed and Industries Marginalised Areas Fund) as some were using the money to import finished products from South Africa for resale.
“Marvo is using funds from Dimaf to import finished products showing that they do not have regard for workers.
“Such an approach is a disservice to the workers and the country as a whole.
“It is working against ZimAsset which seeks to promote employment creation through reviving the manufacturing sector,” Gumbo said.
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu said the organisation would not join other workers to celebrate Workers’ Day for political reasons.
He, however, said the day should remind workers to work together to improve their conditions of service and move from a working to a middle class.
“We are going to be remembering the day though we will not celebrate for political reasons.
“We will not be at the stadia because we have seen a lot of political inclination and manipulation,” Ndlovu said.
He said political parties had taken advantage workers and in the process alienated them from each other. He said Zimta did not want to be mistaken for an extension of any political party.
Ndlovu called on the government to speedily align laws to the new Constitution adding that conditions of workers in the civil service should be improved.
“We do not subscribe to the casualisation of the education profession,” he said.
“The profession has been casualised such that underqualified and unqualified people are deployed to teach children at schools with expectations that results would be good.”