Workers’ Day turned into ‘Slave Day’

Source: Workers’ Day turned into ‘Slave Day’ –Newsday Zimbabwe

In separate interviews, workers’ unions said the commemorations had lost their yesteryear lustre as employees live from hand to mouth.

UNIONS representing workers across the country have concurred that Workers’ Day has turned into “Slave Day commemorations” because of poor pay and working conditions.

May 1 was first designated as an international labour day by the International Socialist Congress in 1889, and it was subsequently made a holiday.

In separate interviews, workers’ unions said the commemorations had lost their yesteryear lustre as employees live from hand to mouth.

Zimbabwe Congress for Trade Unions (ZCTU) national organiser, Michael Kandukutu, said workers had nothing to celebrate.

“We used to have Workers Day celebrations maybe 15 years ago but now it is just commemorations of employees’ problems. It is a lamentation day for workers’ problems,” Kandukutu said.

“Working has failed to transform the lives of workers. We have workers who cannot afford what they are producing.”

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said the government had abandoned teachers.

“As far as we are concerned salaries have gone down, conditions of service have not improved and it’s indeed an insult to us,” he said“As far as we are concerned, May Day is a day we are supposed to celebrate, but we cannot celebrate slavery.”

Zimbabwe Union of Journalists secretary-general Perfect Hlongwane said scribes had been turned into beggars.

“It’s a pity that journalists should be celebrating Workers Day, a day we look back and take stock or what has been achieved but if you do a scan of the environment or what is obtaining on the ground you will realise that journalists are some of the people who are least paid in the country,” Hlongwane said.

“This has taken away professionalism that we are supposed to see in the sector. It is sad that nothing is being done to fix the issue of remuneration.”

Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions chairperson, David Dzatsunga, said government workers had become a laughing stock.

“In other countries when you are in public service, working for the government you are up there in terms of earnings but in Zimbabwe it’s different, we have become a laughing stock,” Dzatsunga said.

Zimbabwe Association for Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) said: “In commemorating this day, ZADHR laments the state of our public health delivery system and the exposure of health professionals to harm in their line of duty.

“For years, health workers in Zimbabwe have clamoured for a healthy service and healthy workplace that promote and protect their rights through strengthening infection control protocols and associated provisions for infection control such as personal protective equipment.”

The Federation of Zimbabwe Educators Unions (FOZEU)  urged unions to forge a united front in the fight for better wages for all workers.

“FOZEU, therefore, calls for the immediate creation of a viable alternative platform genuinely representing the hopes and aspirations of workers.

Progressive unions in and outside the ZCTU are urged to come together and create a genuine labour centre for the workers of Zimbabwe and give the workers another fighting chance,” FOZEU said.