Workers-9Workers should be celebrated for they are the driving force pushing the economy forward. Only two days ago, Zimbabwean workers joined their counterparts from across the world in celebrating Workers’ Day.

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While some do not realise the significance of the day and might just take it as a day to unwind and spend time with their families, May Day is actually very important in the struggle for the working class.

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Many a time, owners of the means of production get too caught up in pursuit of profits such that workers end up being downtrodden — some having to work 10, 12 or even 14 hours a day.

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More than a century ago, the Federation of Organised Trades and Labour Unions passed a resolution that eight hours would constitute a legal day’s work and from then on the historic struggle of working people began.

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It goes without saying that those hours should be paid for as agreed by both parties.

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After all, labour is not a free resource.

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A content employee has a happy mind and a happy mind is a productive mind.

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As the Government, business leaders and unionists take time to look into issues of vital importance to the working people, this should not become a battlefield.

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Rather, it should be an opportunity to look at ways of improving the workers’ welfare so that they fare better at maximising productivity.

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The obtaining economic situation has seen an unbalanced labour market developing.

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As companies downsize while others close shop altogether, the result has seen too many qualified personnel chasing after the few available jobs.

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And as dictated by the laws of supply and demand, employers currently have the upper hand as far as setting the tone in industry is concerned.

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But this must not be a gateway for employers to mistreat their employees.

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Talk of working hours, working conditions, employee duties, their remuneration, terms of retrenchment and so forth, Zimbabwean workers are being abused left, right and centre.

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Government must step up and protect workers from unfair labour practices. In particular, contracts that are signed between companies and their employees are legal documents that must be adhered to.

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Employers who thrive in exploiting employees should bow their heads in shame.

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In some very sad cases, some employees have toiled for years or even decades on end, only to find themselves unfairly dismissed or retrenched with nothing to show for their sweat.

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We hope all workers’ unions — the Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Unions (ZCTU), the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) and the United Food and Allied Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe — are tirelessly fighting in the workers’ corner.

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The existence of such unions is a reflection of the democracy that prevails in the country.

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Sadly, some of these unions sometimes find themselves abusing democracy and straying into politics. This somehow dilutes their punch when it comes to carrying out their core mandate, that is fighting for workers’ rights.

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However, it is not all gloomy for the Zimbabwean workers.

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At this juncture as the fruits of Zim-Asset start to trickle in and resuscitate the economy, the last thing that should be accommodated in any worker’s mind is pessimism.

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Only the right frame of mind will kick start the economy.

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