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Workers Day Statement: Committee of the Peoples Charter

PRESS STATEMENT – The Committee of the Peoples Charter (CPC) joins the rest of the world in commemorating the May Day.

File picture of construction workers in Zimbabwe
File picture of construction workers in Zimbabwe

This year’s Workers Day commemorations come at a time when workers, both formal and informal are grappling with immeasurable challenges, notably receding employment opportunities, slave wages below the poverty line, all a result of a declining economy.

The CPC notes the current economic reality of Zimbabwe suggests a scenario where formal employment numbers are drastically dropping each month and currently only an estimated 15% of Zimbabweans are formally employed.

This reality has mutilated the economy to an extent where the majority of those pushed out of formal employment and the unemployed have resorted to vending.

This development is against the backdrop of the government failing to fulfill its electoral promise to create 2, 2 million jobs by 2018 under its much vaunted economic blueprint Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZimAsset).

With an average 250 000 scholars leaving our high schools and tertiary institutions each year, the unemployment situation is very dire for young people.

The CPC also notes with the concern the government’s intention to legislate Labour Flexibility which will among other things link remuneration to productivity, making it easier for employers to hire and fire employees and fundamentally reduce all employment to casual labour.

This is against the aspirations of the majority of Zimbabwean workers and a clear sign that the government has completely departed from the social democratic norms to protecting capital and employers at the detriment of the poor and workers.

If implemented, this will erode employee rights as new capital and foreign investors especially Chinese would literally reduce local labour into slaves as workers will simply be fired or only hired on short term contracts, thus denying them social protection in their old age.

It is important to note on this day that the responsibility to provide jobs and a meaningful livelihood option for citizens lies primarily with the state.

As the custodian of all national resources, both natural and man-made, the government ought to be the chief propagator of access to opportunities for its citizens, key of which is a sustainable livelihood.

Fair labour standards must be applied and this should include a living minimum wage linked to inflation and poverty datum line, living pension and security allowances for all retirees and the elderly.  This should suffice for both public and private sector workers.

If our workers get a living wage, then other attendant issues such as health care, education, housing, access to water and sanitation can become a reality.

The CPC urges the present government to take the plight of workers and the general citizenry seriously, and to show greater commitment to creating an economy and attendant conditions that are favourable to the workers and the general citizenry.

Policy inconsistency remains a major challenge with our government, a factor that continues to hamper meaningful foreign direct investment that can resuscitate our comatose economy. This is exacerbated by rampant corruption in the public and private sectors which again continues to hamper development.

The government should seriously consider the full functionality of the tripartite negotiating forum, in pursuit of a binding social contract to take the economy and country forward.

The onus is also upon the workers, including those in the largely dominant informal sector to organize themselves and to demand amenable working conditions and policies that can drive our country forward, in pursuit of a socially just and prosperous Zimbabwe. 

Issued by the CPC Information Department