Teachers see nothing to celebrate on Workers Day

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Workers have described this year’s Workers’ Day as sad coming at a time labour laws are being continually violated by employers including government.

Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating Workers Day this Tuesday, just after crippling health sector strikes and a looming teachers’ protest over remuneration as well as conditions of service.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said it was sad that a day meant to celebrate the country taskforce has been reduced into a day to share stories on the trampling on their fundamental rights and freedoms.

“ZLHR is encouraged by the provision of labour rights in the constitution. However, five years on, very little progress has been made to fully implement section 65 of the Constitution,” said ZLHR in a statement.

The organisation also expressed worry over the failure by government to respond to the “legitimate concerns raised by workers in the public sector in Zimbabwe”.

“It is disturbing that the onslaught of workers’ rights by state and non-state actors has continued unabated in 2018,” ZLHR said.

The workers’ base has dwindled owing to companies’ closure and their non-replacement.

Amalgamated Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure said, “The commemorations come at a time the worker is being treated like a slave. The salaries are below poverty datum line, they can’t access the money from banks, only given three maternity leave and with the vacation leave being taken away.”.

According to the organisation, in March 2018, members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) arrested spouses of some Hwange Colliery Company workers who were protesting against the non-payment of their husbands’ outstanding wages.

Municipal police have repeatedly been engaging in running battles with informal sector traders eking out a living in Harare while nurses had to reapply after being sacked for demanding better working conditions.

“In the midst of all this the handling of labor disputes by the state is by all standards a disaster. This economic crisis can only be ended by a government with a proper economic plan,” said Jacob Mafume, PDP spokesperson.

Takavafira Zhou, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary general, said, “We know that we have received threats particularly from Education minister Prof Mavhima but our answer is very clear because we don’t eat threats.”