Zim workers threaten to 'vent anger' on the streets over 'senseless' job losses

2015-07-23 08:03
Robert Mugabe. (File: City Press)

Robert Mugabe. (File: City Press) (Elizabeth Sejake/City Press)

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Harare - Zimbabwe’s main labour union on Wednesday warned that workers would take to the streets to "vent their anger" if President Robert Mugabe’s government fails to take action to stem job losses after a landmark court ruling on job termination.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) called on Mugabe to exercise his emergency presidential powers as hundreds more job losses were reported.

“It has been agreed that the Presidential Powers Temporary Measures be invoked to stop these senseless [job] terminations, otherwise workers will be left with no option but to flood the streets to vent their anger,” the union said in a statement.

On Tuesday, labour unions said more than 700 workers had lost their jobs after the Supreme Court ruled on Friday that employers can terminate job contracts by giving workers just three months notice. Late on Wednesday the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation said on its website that another 400 workers had been dismissed earlier in the day at Sino Zim Cotton Holdings in Harare.

Previously, employers had to follow laborious procedures and pay hefty severance packages before they could fire or retrench workers.

Years of economic crisis

“The dismissals are more of victimisation purges than genuine restructuring exercises and have turned the workplace into a nightmare,” the ZCTU said.  

Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate is already said to be more than 80%, after years of economic crisis that has seen many companies shut down or operate below capacity.

Labour Minister Priscah Mupfumira told parliament on Wednesday that the government had “noted with concern” the Supreme Court ruling.

“As it is, it gives the employers almost a master/servant relationship whereby the worker can be summarily given notice,” she said.

She said the Attorney General was reviewing the judgement. “We want a win-win situation,” she added.

The Supreme Court ruling has received mixed reactions from ordinary Zimbabweans. Some feel it will liberalise the business environment, and make it more appealing to investors. Others have condemned it.

“This [judgement] is bad for everyone, including Zanu-PF. It will be bad for keeping their working class masses pacified,” wrote Taff Gidi on Twitter.

Read more on:    robert mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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