The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) joins the world in commemorating Workers Day. Worker’s Day is a day to reflect on the contributions of the work force in the development and shaping of the economic landscape. This year’s global theme is “Uniting Workers for Social and Economic Advancement”.
As we commemorate Workers Day in 2019, the Forum reminds us that the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 20) guarantees in section 65 (1) that every person has the right to fair and safe labour practices and standards, and, to be paid a fair and reasonable wage. However, as we commemorate Workers Day in 2019, it is sad to note the deteriorating conditions of workers and the failure of the Government of Zimbabwe to provide for a decent wage for civil servants despite the increasing hyperinflation our economy is faced with. Doctors continue to speak against the unavailability of raising concern over the unavailability of medical supplies to allow them to be safe and to treat patients which prompted the industrial action in December 2018 and March 2019.
In addition, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (leaders) continues to protest against meagre salaries that do not reflect hyperinflation. The Forum is also concerned with the Public Service Commission withholding the salaries of the ARTUZ leaders following the #ZimShutDown Protests in January. The protests began after the Zimbabwe Council of Trade Unions called for a stay away in January 2019 bemoaning declining economic situation and the challenges that continue to be faced by workers. The Forum reminds the Government of Section 65 (2) of the Constitution which states that employees have the right to form and join trade unions of their choice. Attacks on trade unions for speaking out on worker’s conditions violates section 61 of the Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression. The work of trade unions in calling for just, equitable and satisfactory conditions of work is constitutional and valid for the full realization of the Labour rights under Section 65 of the Constitution.
The Forum also reminds the Government of Zimbabwe that the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights guarantees the rights of everyone to the opportunity to gain a living by work in Article 6. This right not only entails access to employment opportunities but also the ability to survive from the remuneration. As the Forum commemorates Workers Day, it reminds the Government that decent work is key to its attainment of the commitments made to Agenda 2030 of Sustainable Development Goals. Decent work, refers not only to workers in the formal economy but also to unregulated wage workers, the self-employed and home workers. It also refers to adequate opportunities for work, remuneration (in cash and in kind), and embraces safety at work and healthy working conditions. Sustainable Development Goal number 8 calls for the promotion of sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work. The Forum therefore urges the Government of Zimbabwe to promote decent work for workers in both the formal and informal sector.
The Forum therefore calls on the Government of Zimbabwe to:
- Respect the Constitutionally granted right to labour;
- To alleviate the working conditions of workers through the promoting of the decent work principles inline with Goal 8 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Enact an action plan to ensure the right to fair and safe labor practices and standards, and, to be paid a fair and reasonable wage are achieved.