By Alois Vinga
ZIMBABWE Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has bemoaned the loss of 14 lives due to work-related accidents within two consecutive months of January and February this year.
Speaking to Newzimbabwe.com on the sidelines of the National Safety and Health Day commemorations held this week, ZCTU president Peter Mutasa said the lives of hundreds of workers were at risk due to poor work practices.
“In the period January and February 2021, 14 fatalities and three injuries were recorded. It is important to note the statistics do not reflect accidents obtained in the informal economy,” he said.
“This is a clear testimony that as a country, we are still far from effective implementation of sound occupational safety and health management systems.”
Mutasa added the death toll and injuries were now high for 2021, but the labour union was still accessing the correct data. He said between January to December 2020 a total of 3 528 injuries and 49 fatalities were recorded.
Mutasa reminded the government and employers to urgently consider the ratification of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 187/2006 on the promotional framework for occupational safety and health.
“Apart from this, we also need to push for the adoption of the ILO’s resolutions which seek to enhance the application of international occupational health and safety standards and greater implementation of these rights in national legislation and practice,” Mutasa said.
He also encouraged greater recognition, and adherence, for the rights set out in the conventions, such as the right to refuse unsafe work, need to consult workers and union representatives including injecting resources for occupational health and safety.
The ZCTU leader called for the building of occupational health and safety into trade agreements and multilateral arrangements, like World Bank and regional development bank rules.
The National Health and Safety Day commemorations are held annually in remembrance of the Hwange Kamandama Coal Mine disaster which claimed the lives of 427 workers on 6 June 1972.
“Appallingly, the deceased workers’ families are still languishing in poverty almost 48 years later. Even though having proposed setting up of a fund to assist the widows, and remembering vividly contributing a significant amount towards that fund, nothing tangible has materialised to date,” added Mutasa.