International Workers’ Day is an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the achievements of workers. It is a day full of history and symbolism for workers’ solidarity and the struggle for decent working conditions.
In Zimbabwe, however, it is disheartening to note the challenges that continue to outweigh the achievements of workers. Of concern is the high levels of unemployment and extremely low wages offered to workers in the private and public sector. Indeed, most workers continue and their families continue to live below the poverty datum line, while unemployment and inequality is increasing at a shocking pace.
Zimbabwe continues to witness an unprecedented increase in informal trading as former and potential workers fail to secure employment. The informal sector, is under threat as some government actors threaten to evict these traders from their only source of livelihood and demolish their structures. The situation of informal traders has to be addressed with provision of a human rights based policy to safeguard the interests of those involved.
While the Constitution of Zimbabwe has some provisions which protect labour rights, freedom to demonstrate and petition and the right to collective job action and collective bargaining, it is saddening to note that the Zimbabwe Republic Police continues to disregard workers’ rights by arbitrarily suppressing their legitimate activities.
ZLHR remains worried about violations of social rights to shelter, which has been by far, the biggest challenge from the legal and socio-political perspective as forced demolition of houses and informal sector trading stalls continue.
As a result, workers and their families have been left displaced and have had their property and livelihoods destroyed.
With most workers condemned to informal sector trading, it is worrying that those eking out a living by way of informal employment are always at the mercy of government.
Running battles continue to be experienced between informal sector traders and the municipal police, that has at times led to arrest and prosecution of informal traders on flimsy charges. ZLHR also regrets that at times the action taken by authorities has led to arbitrary deprivation of property without following the due process of the law.
Despite the litany of hurdles in the struggle for the realisation and enjoyment of workers’ rights, ZLHR calls on the government to further refine and protect fundamental workers’ rights and ensure effective implementation of constitutional rights.
ZLHR calls upon the government to immediately align all labour laws with the new Constitution and for the executive and legislative arms of government to reform legislation to effectively deal with the scourge of corruption, including corporate greed, particularly in the public sector.
Inspite of the difficult working environment, we hope that in 2017, Zimbabwean workers will continue with the struggle for a better Zimbabwe.
ZLHR remains fully committed to promoting, protecting and defending workers’ rights and we stand together with the working and unemployed masses in Zimbabwe in calling for a better and more dignified life for all.
Qina Sisebenzi Qina!
Shinga Mushandi Shinga!
Long live Zimbabwean workers!Post published in: Business