Workers continue to be exploited

HARARE - The current situation that is prevailing in most local companies is not far from the definition of slavery if not worse.

Over the years Zimbabweans have witnessed high levels of unemployment and at over 90 percent rate of unemployment, this becomes a reflection of serious poverty in a nation.

For those that are blessed with formal employment, most of the workers in Zimbabwe are not only inadequately remunerated but they mostly have salary arrears dating back to as many 24 months.

The National Railways of Zimbabwe for example is currently in salary arrears at 15 months for its workers. This has resulted in a lot of financial havoc for workers and the obligations of workers dislocated.

Zimbabwe Partnership for Prosperity (ZIPP), a new and youthful political party with Christian values, believes no one should be subjected to unpaid, forced or compulsory labour. The situation prevailing in our country must not be allowed to continue by all progressive Zimbabweans.

In the two decades of self-inflicted recession, our labour bodies have tried to negotiate with the government through strikes, stayaways and various similar concerted efforts to coerce the government to accede to employee related demands but that has not been heeded to and the workers' lives have deteriorated.

Many working environments have become death cages, and the worker himself has come under serious psychological pressure due to work related stress resulting in numerous cases of depression, suicides, and other psychosomatic illnesses.

ZIPP believes a healthy worker is a productive worker. Workers are not mere tools of production to exploit and throw back into the tools room but human beings that should have their dignity and pride.

Labour should be given incentives and rewards to enhance productivity. Workers form part of the richness of Zimbabwe evidenced by its globally recognised human capital capacity.

Accordingly, ZIPP as the government in waiting, will, on our first term of office, make deliberate laws that will result in every Zimbabwean worker becoming a shareholder in any corporation that signs a permanent contract of employment with him or her.

This move will guarantee the participation of all Zimbabweans in the economy of the country regardless of foreign or local nationals’ involvement in company ownership in the country. Consequently this will improve and guarantee the earnings of all employees and the government will also have high revenue collections to meet social and economic obligations of the nation.

ZIPP believes in worker equity as a solution to the current labour crises, and worker satisfaction will directly and positively affect productivity across all industries.

The events of 2015 that led to the dismissal of thousands of employees at three months’ notice was draconian and the highest levels of cruelty against the workers.

We have learnt that up to today, despite the labour act amendment No 5/2015, the victims of the Supreme Court ruling by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku of 17 July 2015 are not yet compensated and their terminal benefits remain unpaid.

The sad part is to even observe that state enterprises like GMB and NRZ have not compensated their ex-employees. ZIPP will make it a must that all employers strictly observe the laws enacted by Parliament to improve conditions of workers.

ZIPP will also ensure that Trade Unionism remains relevant to the 21st century by ensuring that it departs from political bitterness and expression of anger against the government and employers through restoration of the tripartite negotiating forum in good faith. Federations must remain autonomous, and the discussions with the government should be continuous and progressive with no unnecessary antagonism.

A ZIPP government is therefore a government that shall take seriously the issues of all employees and employers and support the existence of institutions that promote and advancement the rights and interests of workers within Zimbabwe.

* Kasiyamhuru is president of ZIPP

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