THE French-based labour body Union Network International (UNI) has urged the government to restore proper industrial relations in the country and to uphold freedom of expression. <
UNI said during its meeting in Lyon last Friday government should take immediate action to ensure court decisions concerning workers’ rights and industrial disputes were upheld.
This came as government was persisting in its practice of using the police and the army to harass and attack striking workers. Unlawful dismissals have also become an official weapon against workers.
At least 980 Zimpost workers have been suspended and many dismissed for taking part in strike action last month.
UNI said despite a settlement having been agreed with Zimpost and assurances from the management that all workers would be able to return to work, several hundred workers remained suspended or fired.
UNI noted that 2 200 Tel*One workers remained suspended despite a court order in their favour.
At Zimbank 250 workers were recently summarily dismissed for taking part in a three-hour protest. UNI also said it was seriously concerned about developments at Sable Chemicals where workers were forced to buy Zanu PF membership cards before they were allowed to return to work after being suspended for taking part in strike action.
UNI also noted that 24 workers had been dismissed at CarnaudMetalBox’s Metal Packaging Division, which is 100% owned by paper and packaging firm Nampak, for participating in lawful industrial action.
Hunyani Flexible and Corrugated Products, which is also 50% owned by Nampak, dismissed its workers’ committee chairman Lazarus Chitsungo for allegedly inciting workers to protest for better salaries and working conditions.
UNI said it was deeply worried about the dismissal of Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Lovemore Matombo from Zimpost and called for the suspension of criminal charges laid against him for engaging in legitimate union activities.
UNI also condemned the expulsion of a delegation from the Congress of South African Trade Unions by the Zimbabwe government last month.
“The UNI World Executive Board therefore calls upon the government of Zimbabwe to take action to restore proper industrial relations in the country and to uphold the constitution which guarantees freedom of expression,” it said.
“Further, it calls upon the government to take immediate action to guarantee that the decisions of the courts concerning workers’ rights and industrial disputes will be upheld and implemented according to the court’s wishes.”
It said the practice of using the police and military to harass and violently attack workers was “totally unacceptable” and demanded that government stopped “violence, harassment and the militarisation of industrial disputes”.
UNI said all workers should be allowed to return to work without penalty and all suspensions or dismissals be withdrawn forthwith.
It also demanded that Matombo be reinstated at Zimpost and be allowed to carry out his trade union activities without harassment or fear of violence or arrest.