Human rights watchdog bemoans workers’ plight

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has described as “disheartening” the woes that workers continue to face.

Marking International Workers’ Day that is celebrated worldwide on May 1, ZLHR accused both government and the private sector of neglecting workers’ welfare.

“It is disheartening to note that setbacks and challenges continue to outweigh the victories and progress that workers have achieved in the 34 years of Zimbabwe’s independence as the government and employers in private enterprise have turned their backs on the working people,” said ZLHR in a statement.

It was dismayed by widespread retrenchments offset by company closures in recent months and said Zimbabwean workers “continue to earn slave wages that do not allow them and their families to live above the poverty datum line, while unemployment and inequality is increasing at a shocking pace”.

Government was failing to create the 2 million jobs promised by the ruling party, Zanu (PF), ahead of last year’s general elections, while in some cases, companies were imposing salary cuts as corruption increased.

The public sector has of late been rocked by salary scandals and high level of corruption marked by executives awarding themselves huge perks at a time their enterprises suffered liquidity problems.

“It is unacceptable that no concerted action has been taken to bring an end to the impunity for corrupt activities by big bosses who continue to feast while their workers go for months without decent pay and sub-standard working conditions,” said ZLHR.

The human rights lawyers’ group said Zimbabweans were turning to the informal sector to find employment but their endeavours were threatened by government’ s decision to destroy unauthorised structures, evict traders from their operating places and mooted compulsory taxation.

“ZLHR commits itself to the comradely struggle to press the government to further refine and protect fundamental workers’ rights, ensure effective implementation of rights already guaranteed, and in this regard to immediately align all labour laws with the new Constitution.

“We further call on the executive and legislative arms of government to fast-track legislation that will effectively deal with the scourge of corruption, including corporate greed, particularly in the public sector,” said ZLHR.

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