By Farai Matiashe/Silas Nkala

Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) has called on government to facilitate the transition of workers and economic units from informal to formal, while respecting workers’ rights and ensuring opportunities for income security, livelihoods and entrepreneurship.

In a statement yesterday, Zimcodd said government should implement policies that ensure workers live descent lives.

“Zimcodd calls for an alternative pro-poor economic system that value workers, cognisant of the fact that workers create society’s wealth, but have no control over its production and distribution. Promote the creation, preservation and sustainability of enterprises and decent jobs in the formal economy and the coherence of macroeconomic, employment, social protection and other social policies,” the organisation said.

The coalition blamed government for worsening the economic situation in the country by introducing policies such as the Transitional Stabilisation Programme.

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“It is worrying that this year, Workers’ Day is being commemorated in the midst of a deep socio-economic crisis, worsened by neo-liberal policies being implemented under the ‘austerity for prosperity’ mantra. This has caused untold suffering to workers due to continual rising cost of living, further eroding wages and salaries.

“Already, the first days of the implementation of austerity for prosperity (measures) has seen massive macro-economic recession manifesting through many tax heads being introduced targeting the citizens and the worker, skyrocketing prices of basic commodities, macroeconomic distortions and foreign exchange shortages,” the statement read.

Zimcodd said historical evidence, locally, regionally and internationally has proved that austerity measures were not a solution to the material conditions of the working class, but instead entrenches poverty and other forms of inequality.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) expressed concern at the alarming and escalating disrespect for workers by both the government and the private sector in recent months.

“While the Constitution of Zimbabwe now guarantees labour rights, including the right to collective job action and collective bargaining, freedom to demonstrate and petition, it is saddening to note that Zimbabwean authorities such as the Zimbabwe Republic Police continue to disregard workers’ rights by arbitrarily suppressing their legitimate activities,” ZLHR said.

“In recent months, Zimbabwe’s disrespect for labour rights reached a new low when authorities used force to break up demonstrations called for by aggrieved workers, who were demanding an end to the economic crisis … and a reversal of the steep hike in fuel prices by government.”

The organisation said the police’s vicious reaction to the workers’ protest over genuine grievances afflicting their daily livelihoods was a blatant abuse of its power and is in violation of the Constitution and the International Labour Organisation standards, including the right to strike.