No workers to celebrate Workers’ Day

Residents here have mixed feelings about the significance of Workers’ Day, celebrated on May 1 across the world. With unemployment hovering around 90 percent, most people were of the opinion that the holiday had lost its significance.

Nelson Chipunza: plans to attend both functions.
Nelson Chipunza: plans to attend both functions.

A retrenched worker and former trade unionist, Anyway Tafirenyika, said. “Who will attend the celebrations, given that just about everyone is out of employment? What collective bargaining would trade unions preach to the informal traders? In Marondera, only a tiny proportion of the population is employed in the civil service and at a private company, Proton Bakery. The rest of the closed companies are yet to re-open after the economic meltdown. Farm invasions threw thousands of former commercial farm workers onto the streets.”

A school teacher, Joseph Mlambo, was bitter. “The worker has nothing to celebrate. We no longer have rights to withdraw our labour in protest against unbearable working conditions and servitude salaries. Our government has grown suspicious of workers’ gatherings following the formation of MDC out of workers and students unions.”

A part time university Lecturer, Tonderai Chitaguda, vowed not to grace the celebrations since the split by the umbrella workers’ representative body, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, ZCTU, had confused workers. “We were not aware of which event to attend as rumour had it that one of the factions intended to turn into a political party. No leadership from either party cleared the air for us. It would be in the best interest of the worker if the two factions buried their differences and championed the cause of the struggling worker.”

Nelson Chipunza, a factory worker said. “In order to come to terms with agendas of the two ZCTU factions, I plan to attend the Lovemore Matombo faction gathering at Africa Unity Square in the morning, before proceeding to Gwanzura Stadium where the bigger ZCTU faction led by George Nkiwane would be converging. The commemorations should facilitate dialogue between the worker and the union leadership. Resolutions about the possible way forward for the worker should be adopted on the day so that workers would be better positioned to walk their talk.”

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