Nelson Chamisa, Opinion & Analysis
WORKERS’ DAY is a special day to appreciate, salute and celebrate the amazing efforts, resilience and endurance of all the hard pressed workers who gave and continue to give their sweat and blood to building our ZIMBABWE great even under difficult and times.
This Day, we remember that everything won was through the struggle and sacrifice of working citizens. A standing ovation to all the workers who keep the show going and our nation ticking. Workers are the backbone of any nation, being the turbines of history and architects of any society.
The historic struggle and militant tradition of the labor movement in ZIMBABWE have won us many victories that we still enjoy up to this day. Remember Burombo, Masotsha Ndlovu, Jamela, Mzingeli, Nkomo, Sibanda, Tsvangirai, Matombo, Nkiwane, Chibebe and Mutasa .
Now more than ever, policymakers and employers in Zimbabwe need to heed workers’ calls for a living and decent wage, RESTORE WORKERS’ DIGNITY and ensure that workers get a fair share in the wealth and gains they help to create.
Workers are suffering. Transport is a nightmare. Wages are meagre. Salaries are inadequate. Prices are roaring. The recent statistics from Zimstat shows that annual inflation as of April 2022 has surged to 96.6% while authorities have not given corresponding salary increase;
Current ‘real market’ exchange rate is ZWL 400 to US$1 which effectively means that workers salaries are seriously eroded by both inflation and exchange spiral but authorities are unwilling to give workers a correct living wage;
Likewise, employers’ capacity to pay real wages to workers has been constrained by draconian government policies which inter alia include excessive distortions and corruption and punitive exchange rate regimes and excessive taxes;
The punitive economic environment has been so toxic to the people in the informal sector (as their working capital is being eroded by exchange rate spiral and inflation) who have been trying to make ends meet in the face of high unemployment rate which is above 90%;
Likewise,workers are failing to put a decent meal on the table [and] many now in the poverty bracket. Some workers can’t afford to buy a loaf of bread daily. Our teachers can’t send their kids to standard boarding school and the same teacher is expected to teach other parents kids?
We have numerously advised and continue to advise those authorities to give workers a living and decent wage but the call falls on deaf ears, shut minds and stony hearts. Dollarize for workers to earn decent wages and to increase the domestic aggregate demand.
As the next and incoming government, we guarantee the following:
(a) A decent and living wage.A starting min wage of US$540 for the lowest civil servant;
(b) A conducive environment which foster business growth and attract both domestic and foreign investment -the key levers of job creation;
c) We will undertake massive reforms of the state owned enterprises with a view to place them as key enablers and actors of economic transformation and employment creation.
d) The strengthening of the TNF so that it becomes a serious vehicle for negotiations for Government, Employers and Employees
e) Consummate a Social Contract and massive labour law reforms.
(f) Domestication of ILO Conventions that affect workers’ conditions
(g) Cessation of abuse of workers by exploitative local and foreign employers. Protect workers against any form of violence and violations.
h) We are losing a lot of workers through occupational deaths, sickness, diseases, and injuries. We will seek to drastically reduce this by ratifying and domesticating Convention 187 in order to promote a safe and healthy working environment.
i) We have looked at the 2009 ILO Commission Of Inquiry, and our government will fully implement all the recommendations.
j) Entrench workers’ rights in the constitution, including the right to demonstrate, freedom of association, collective bargaining and decent working conditions including the public sector workers.
k) Domestic Workers are workers. Our government will speedily ratify and domesticate Convention 189 to protect domestic workers and promote decent work for this important but abused group of workers.
We looked at both the proposed Labour Amendment Bill and Health Services Amendment Bill. They all fall short and take away workers freedoms and rights. Our [government] will pursue a TNF driven Labour Law reform based on ILO Conventions and the Constitution. All laws must be aligned to the Constitution
Salute to all the workers who work tirelessly and patriotically every day to bring peace, sanity, amity and happiness to their nations, families and societies. Happy International Workers’ Day!
A worker is a maker. Let’s make ZIMBABWE great. Workers’ day is for all workers. Let us all work for change in ZIMBABWE, register to vote or encourage another to register to vote. Let’s work to build our country great – A New Great ZIMBABWE in our lifetime!
Key to providing a living wage, restoring workers’ dignity and getting rid of the old, rotten and parasitic system sucking life out of workers is electing a Citizens government that puts workers’ welfare first and prioritize dignity at the heart of governance and all policy decisions.
Give the workers their wages before their sweat dries! Better days are coming! A New Great ZIMBABWE is loading…! A blessed Workers’ Day to you all God bless all workers. God bless ZIMBABWE. God bless Africa!
- Nelson Chamisa is the leader of Citizens Coalition for Change. He writes this in his capacity as the alternative leader of Zimbabwe.