ZCTU Calls For Work Boycott Until Companies Are COVID-19 Safe

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By Alois Vinga

THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has called on workers to immediately stop reporting for work until their workplaces have the requisite requirements for combating the spread of COVID-19.

Most companies in the formal sector resumed operations Monday following the easing of lockdown restrictions announced last Friday by President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

However, the labour body criticised the government for negating its responsibilities that came with the introduction of Level Two of the national lockdown extension.

In a statement, ZCTU secretary-general, Japhet Moyo said the neglect raised serious concerns as workers had been left exposed to higher risks of being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He urged the workers to boycott work until the conditions were met.

“Worse still, there is inadequate transport arrangement for workers to go to work and most of them are left stranded as the public transport provider, ZUPCO fails to cope,” he said.

“The ZCTU, therefore, urges workers to stop going to work under these circumstances that could potentially expose them to the coronavirus until they are satisfied that they are safe.”

According to the labour group, hard-pressed workers are now scrounging for money to buy substandard face masks to go to work while there was no guarantee of accessing COVID-19 test kits.

“We are disturbed that the government abrogated its role and suddenly parcelled out its responsibilities to the private sector employers and health institutions when it comes to testing, provision of face masks, and even sanitisation of the workplaces,” he said.

The labour group said the new guidelines for Level Two have created pandemonium and more confusion due to lack of adequate consultation.

Moyo said the government continued to ignore consulting the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) when making crucial decisions as most employers were not ready to accept workers back at work.

“I think we need to emphasise that there were no consultations at TNF and therefore the policy lacks the inputs of labour and employers. We demand that an urgent TNF meeting be convened to deal with the challenges workers now face as a result of the ill-informed decision,” he said.