We need a new labour federation

EDITOR — Since both the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) have proved to be extensions of the two main political parties in the country, there is need for progressive trade unions to think seriously about forming another labour centre, which is truly independent, apolitical and pro-workers since the current state of affairs is not bringing any lull and respite to the suffering workers in general and civil servants in particular.

It is not in dispute that ZCTU has openly declared its political affiliation to the mainstream MDC led by outgoing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, while it is in the public domain that ZFTU is a Zanu PF project.

When the former invited officials from the mainstream MDC to its 2012 May Day commemoration, the latter chose Monica Mutsvangwa, who is a Zanu PF legislator as its guest of honour.

The ZCTU went to the extent of printing T-shirts to popularise the mainstream MDC’s economic policy called JUICE with an MDC logo on one side and a ZCTU logo on the other.

To show that workers are not interested in political rallies but labour forums, which seriously address their bread and butter issues, real workers snubbed both functions as they realised that both labour centres had abandoned them preferring to compete for the attention of politicians who are known to be good at abusing the working class.

As we speak, 95 percent of workers earn salaries that are below the poverty datum line yet these two labour centres have remained silent.

It is only now after the mainstream MDC lost the July 31, 2013 elections that ZCTU is issuing some pessimistic statements consistent with disappointment, yet it has been quiet all along when the mainstream MDC launched a litany of neo-liberal policies such as wage freezes for civil servants, crafting labour-unfriendly policies, crippling and fragmenting the more radical affiliate unions of the ZCTU.

Both ZCTU and ZFTU have allowed State workers to be segregated in their full glare.

These labour centres appear happier with the status quo where the civil servants’ Apex Council has no right of audience before the international and national forums such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) yet they have some civil servant trade unions as their affiliates.

As if this is not enough, in their wisdom or lack of it, they were the first to endorse the Copac draft constitution, which entrenched the de-harmonisation of labour laws instead of pushing for all workers to be governed by the same legal framework.

It boggles the mind why they are collecting subscriptions.

Instead of uniting workers across the political divide, the two labour movements have divided and weakened the working class by siding with either one political outfit or the other.

It is, therefore, long over-due that another mother labour body with a different agenda and ideological thinking emerges to fill the vacuum left by these two labour movements.

Fannuel Mabhugu,


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