5 – No guarantee of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index


The ITUC affiliate in Zimbabwe is the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).

Zimbabwe ratified Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise (1948) in 2003 and Convention No. 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining (1949) in 1998.

In practice

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Teachers assaulted by police during demonstration 12-01-2022

On 12 January 2022, members of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) were brutally attacked and arrested while engaged in protest action outside the National Social Security Office (NSSA) building where the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) meeting was taking place between the government and trade unions.
The demonstrators were demanding the restoration of their salaries to 2018 levels, that is, the levels they were at prior to the government’s implementation of its austerity measures. Teachers were earning a salary of US$540.00 per month, but that had dropped to about US$200.00 per month. They were also challenging the legitimacy of the NJNC, which for the past seven years had not held negotiations to improve teachers’ benefits and conditions.
As the teachers gathered at the venue, police arrived with guns and batons. The teachers were threatened, seriously assaulted and made to lie on their stomachs. Sixteen leaders of ARTUZ were arrested, including the ARTUZ president, Obert Masaraure.
Human rights lawyers were contracted to assist those arrested. On 18 January, the sixteen teachers were released on bail.

Police violence during an ARTUZ protest12-01-2022

On 12 January 2022, ARTUZ members engaged in a protest action at the National Social Security Authority building, where the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) meeting was taking place between the government and trade unions. The demonstrators were demanding the restoration of their salaries to 2018 levels – levels prior to the government’s implementation of austerity measures. During the demonstration, the Zimbabwe Republic Police pounced on the demonstrators, severely brutalising them and arresting and detaining 16 unionists, including the ARTUZ president, Obert Masaraure.

Failure to remit dues to mineworkers’ union01-01-2022

The South Mining Co. has deducted union dues from its workers since September 2019 but failed to remit them to the National Mining Workers Union of Zimbabwe (NMWUZ). This situation continued throughout 2021 and into 2022.

Union repeatedly denied access to its members 31-12-2021

Throughout 2021 the Zimbabwe Chemicals, Plastics and Allied Workers Union (ZCPAWU) was denied access to its members in companies in the following sectors: fertilisers and agrochemicals, the personal care products manufacturing industry, plastics, and the pharmaceutical and paint ink manufacturing industries.
Unions have a right in labour law to visit companies to provide services or advise their members regarding the protection of their rights and interests, but in practice employers deny this right and create anonymous links to fake unions while seeking to discredit and undermine legitimate and registered unions, particularly those affiliated to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).
ZCPAWU has registered its disputes with the employers for conciliation and arbitration with the National Employment Council (NEC).

Dismissed for joining the union30-09-2021

When, in September 2021, the trade union National Mining Workers Union of Zimbabwe (NMWUZ) checked to find out why the Chinese mining company Zhong Jian Investments had not been remitting union dues to it from its members, it discovered that of the 50 new members who joined the union in 2019, only 18 were still in employment. The rest had been dismissed. The union tried to engage with the company’s human resources manager to find out more, but to no avail. NMWUZ is now taking legal action.

Workers’ committee and union members victimised at mining company30-09-2021

During a visit to the Turbo Mining Company in September 2021, the National Mining Workers Union of Zimbabwe (NMWUZ) discovered that employees were being victimised for participating in the trade union or in the workers’ committee. The NMWUZ contacted the company’s human resources department and requested an orientation session about the role and responsibilities of a workers’ committee. By February 2022 this request had not been met.

Workers protest over rights violations at smelting factory23-09-2021

The National Union of Metal and Allied Industries of Zimbabwe (NUMAIZ) protested workers’ rights violations at Chinese-owned Afrochine Smelting, which include unfair termination of contracts for 33 workers, non-payment of wages, and the beating up of workers by supervisors. According to a shop steward who works at Afrochine, over 1,500 workers are employed at the ferrochrome plant, which is about 75 kilometres from Harare.
“We are working in fear with no job security and being humiliated every day. You are beaten up by supervisors who are Chinese nationals, and if you report to the police, you will be unfairly dismissed before the conclusion of the case. With fewer jobs available in Zimbabwe, workers are suffering in silence. We are supporting the call for strike action against Afrochine to stop the workers’ rights violations,” says the shop steward who witnessed some of the beatings.
Conciliation efforts at the National Employment Council of the ferroalloy industry – a social dialogue platform – failed, as the ferrochrome smelting company did not show up at a meeting on 22 September. In the absence of dialogue, the union says it will take the grievances to the courts.

Henry Tarumbira, general secretary of NUMAIZ said: “The union will not stand by and watch while its members are abused. We are fighting to stop the unfair retrenchments and harassment and will take necessary action as provided by the labour laws to demonstrate against the violations as well as go to the courts to stop the abuses. Workers are continuously exposed to poor working conditions while health and safety standards are ignored. There is also wage theft and underpayment of wages. IndustriALL affiliates in the country will be mobilised and are expected to join the strike and other actions in solidarity with the workers at Afrochine.”
Afrochine is a subsidiary of the world’s biggest stainless steel product manufacturers Tsingshan Holding Group, which trades on the London Metals Exchange.

Freedom of association undermined as mining company deducts dues for unidentified union09-09-2021

Workers at the R. Davis company discovered that their freedom to join the union of their choice was being undermined by their employer. The mining company had been deducting union dues from employees without their consent and remitting them to an anonymous union. The company was approached by the National Mining Workers Union of Zimbabwe (NMWUZ) on 9 September 2021. The union tried to engage management, but the company refused to disclose which union the dues were for. The NMWUZ is still pursuing the matter.

Freedom of association denied on political grounds28-05-2021

The Ceramics and Allied Workers Union (CAWU) approached the Chinese company Sunny Ye Feng Tiles on 28 May 2021 further to allegations by its members of violations of health and safety rules and COVID-19 regulations. The management representatives refused to discuss the issue with the union officials and threated to “deal” with them, as they were “connected to higher authorities”. The problem, it emerged, was that CAWU is an affiliate of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). The management made it clear they only recognised the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU), a rival federation initially formed by the political party ZANU PF. This was a clear violation of the right to freedom of association on political grounds. CAWU referred the matter for arbitration at the National Employment Council (NEC).

ZCTU May Day Celebrations disrupted by police 01-05-2021

On 1 May 2021, May Day celebrations by the Chitungwiza District branch of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) were prevented from going ahead by the police who came to the venue, harassed workers, denied them entrance to the hall and threatened to arrest them.
The ZCTU regional official present demanded that the police provide a written explanation for banning the event, which the senior police officer in charge refused to do.
ZCTU has experienced many such situations for a long time. People are sent from the president’s office, or the police themselves interrupt ZCTU activities and harass and disperse workers or demand to see programmes or to sit in on the meetings.

State persecution against ZCTU leaders continues 01-10-2020

Since the arrest of ZCTU leaders in January 2019 and their subsequent release in November 2019, the president, Peter Mutasa, and the secretary general, Japhet Moyo, have both remained a target of persecution. Even though the charges against them were withdrawn in November 2019, their cell phones are still confiscated and their bail deposits have not been refunded. Prosecution insists that the police are still investigating the ZCTU leadership. The ZCTU president has been placed on the most-wanted persons list by the police. The homes of ZCTU leaders are constantly monitored, and they live their lives in fear. Following previous threats of abduction and rape previously made to the ZCTU secretary general and the vice president, and now the attack on the president, Peter Mutasa, the ZCTU remains concerned about the shrinking democratic space.

South African metal workers speak out against state-sponsored violence in Zimbabwe24-09-2020

The government of Zimbabwe banned demonstrations that were planned for 31 July 2020 against COVID-19 procurement corruption and the deteriorating social and economic crisis in the country. Activists, students, journalists and the organisers of the 31 July demonstration were arrested, abducted and tortured, charged in the courts with trying to overthrow the government and accused of “inciting violence” or disregarding COVID-19 regulations. The demonstrations were stifled by a heavy police and army presence, and the few who took placards out to the streets were arrested.
An International Day of Action in support of Zimbabwean unions was organised on 23 September, including in South Africa, where the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) organised a picket outside the Zimbabwean Embassy in Pretoria. The picket is a response to the International Day of Action called by ITUC-Africa to protest labour and human rights violations in Zimbabwe. The union was joined at the picket by civil society organisations that are protesting the violations using the online campaign #ZimbabweanLivesMatter highlighting governmental abuses.

Ruling party attacking ZCTU and calling the union “a terrorist organisation”27-07-2020

On 27 July 2020, the ruling party, ZANU-PF, convened a press conference in which the acting spokesperson, Mr Patrick Chinamasa, attacked and labelled the ZCTU a “Trojan Horse of the MDC-Alliance and a terrorist organisation together with the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition”, a civil society organisation. On the same day, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) issued a statement that they were hunting down ZCTU president Peter Mutasa and also Mr Obert Masaraure and Mr Robson Chere, who are the leaders of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union (ARTUZ), with regard to the 31 July 2020 protest action.
Trade union leaders face daily threats, harassment and persecution by the Zimbabwean authorities. On 12 July, Peter Mutasa had his home broken into during the night by armed personnel in an attempt to abduct him. They were unable to locate him, but his car’s tyres were deflated by sharp objects. Since the 2019 crackdown, Mr Mutasa and Mr Moyo have been subjected to constant threats.

Arrest of 13 nurses during a strike 06-07-2020

On 6 July 2020, the Zimbabwean Nurses Association (ZINA) organised strikes in Harare and Bulawayo to request upward salary review and outstanding COVID-19 allowances as well as adequate provision of personal protective equipment (PPE). Prior to the protests, the government had rendered the Bipartite Negotiating Panel for the sector useless when it unilaterally declared that it would not be engaging in any form of collective bargaining for the next three months. Instead of opening dialogue, the government ordered the arrest of 13 nurses. They have since been released on bail, but all have been dismissed.

Bata refuses to comply with the check-off system 03-06-2020

In early 2020, the Footwear and Tanners Allied Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe, a ZCTU affiliate, submitted to the shoemaking company Bata a list of over 500 workers they had organised into a union and requested that the company remit to the union the deductions of union subscription through the check-off system applicable pursuant to SI 246 of 1993. ZCTU intervened in May 2020 to remind the company of its duties, but to no avail, as Bata flatly refused to proceed. Management claimed that the workers as members of FTAWUZ were also members of another union and used as a pretext that during the lockdown the check-off agreement was not applicable.
Such interference is a clear violation of the right of workers to freely choose the organisation they want to join. To date, more than 200 of the unionised employees are still being denied this right.

ARTUZ secretary for gender tortured 16-05-2020

The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) secretary for gender, Moreblessing Nyambara, was arrested, tortured and left for dead after police accused her of inciting violence. This was barely a week after three members of the opposition were arrested and severely beaten again during enforcement of lockdown measures.

Criminal charges held against 28 trade unionists04-02-2020

In October 2018, a national protest organised by ZCTU against a financial tax increase and rising prices was violently repressed by police forces. Workers were beaten up, and ZCTU Harare offices were cordoned off by 150 policemen. Thirty-three ZCTU members were arrested and charged with “disrupting public order”.

Over one year after their arrest, 28 of these trade unionists still face criminal charges. Nineteen are to reappear in Mutare Magistrate’s Court on 4 February 2020. If convicted, they face a mandatory ten-year jail term.

In 2019, the Zimbabwean government continued its relentless crackdown on ZCTU. Following the January 2019 crackdown on the ZCTU-organised general strike, the ZCTU president, Peter Mutasa, and the secretary general, Japhet Moyo, were arrested and charged with subversion. Both were released in February 2019, but they remained under strict release conditions, banned from traveling and forced to check in regularly at the police station.

In addition, the ZCTU second vice president, Mr John Chirenda, remains dismissed from employment by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) for representing workers.

The ITUC called for a global day of action on 4 February 2020 to call upon the government of Zimbabwe to withdraw all criminal charges against workers’ representatives and civil society leaders who were arrested for exercising their right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, and to create an enabling environment for trade unions to operate without State inference and intimidation.

ZESA reinstates whistle-blower workers15-01-2020

Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) has reinstated eight employees who were dismissed from work three years ago after exposing massive corrupt activities happening at the parastatal.

After their dismissal, the workers appealed against the decision to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who ordered their immediate reinstatement, but ZESA declined to carry out the order.

They were finally re-appointed in January 2020 without loss of salaries and benefits after going for months unemployed.

Japhet Moyo, the secretary general of the employees’ umbrella body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), confirmed: “The eight unionists who belong to our affiliate, Energy Sector Workers Union of Zimbabwe, have been finally reinstated without loss of salary and benefits covering a period of almost three years […] We have been engaged in a five months’ long battle with ZESA authorities who were reluctant to carry out President Mnangagwa’s directive to reinstate the workers.”

Moyo said the workers had a dispute arising from a collective bargaining agreement reached in 2012 which ZESA had yet to implement. “In the process of pushing for this agreement, the employees came across horrendous corruption details which they informed the President about and as a result, the utility’s management targeted them and illegally dismissed them,” he said.

The ZCTU secretary general highlighted that the labour federation appealed to relevant stakeholders, both locally and internationally, to highlight the plight of the eight workers.

They also briefed President Mnangagwa last year when they met on the sidelines at the Tripartite Negotiation Forum (TNF) and wrote several follow-up letters to him when ZESA expressed reluctance to carry out the directive resulting .

The eight employees are Florence Taruvinga, Gibson Mushunje, Admire Mudzonga, Ackim Mzilikazi, Given Dingwiza, Tariro Shumba, Stephen Moyoweshumba and Johannes Chingoriwo.

Some of the reasons that led to their victimisation involved exposing corruption linking management and the former energy minister, Samuel Undenge, to a public relations company run by former journalist-turned-prophet Oscar Pambuka and Zanu PF activist Psychology Maziwisa.

The workers also raised anomalies in the awarding of the Gwanda solar project to controversial businessman Wicknell Chivayo without following laid-down procurement procedures and payment of the US$5 million to him without bank guarantees.

Undenge, Pambuka and Maziwisa were convicted of corruption and sentenced to prison but are out on bail after appealing against both their convictions and sentences.

ZCTU leader dismissed for his trade union activities31-12-2019

ZCTU denounced the unfair dismissal of its second vice president in 2019. The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), where he was employed, put forward flimsy allegations of insubordination, but no evidence to substantiate these allegations was provided. During a hearing, a board member of Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) accused him of being part of the ZCTU leadership. To date, his appeal has not gone through, and he remains without employment.

Government fires striking doctors06-11-2019

The Zimbabwe government has fired 77 medical doctors who were on strike for two months demanding increased wages.

The Health Service Board launched a disciplinary hearing at the start of November. Most of the doctors charged didn’t attend, saying that they didn’t have money for the bus fare to the hearing. A statement released by the cabinet on 5 November said: “Of the 80 doctors charged, 77 were found guilty and discharged.”

The striking doctors demanded salary increases tied to the US dollar to cope with triple-digit inflation stoked by Zimbabwe’s collapsing economy. Zimbabwe is experiencing a deep economic crisis that has seen high unemployment, food shortages and rolling power blackouts. Prices of basic commodities have continued to skyrocket, with fuel prices and electricity tariffs increasing by 12% and 320%, respectively, in October. A few weeks into the strike, the doctors rejected a 60% pay rise, saying it is not enough to keep up with soaring prices. In mid-October, the striking doctors defied a court order to return to work, saying a pay rise offered by the government failed to meet everyday costs.

Teachers’ union appeals to government to provide collective bargaining rights31-10-2019

On 24 October, two EI affiliates in Zimbabwe, the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (ZIMTA), submitted a petition to Parliament calling on the government to grant full collective bargaining rights to public sector workers.

Speaking on behalf of the two unions, Raymond MaMajongwe and Sifiso Ndlovu, said: “The government needs to take action now! We are saying time’s up and there should be no further delays!” The petition notes that under current legislation there is neither protection of the right to organise for public service workers nor any mechanism for negotiation of terms and conditions of employment. While the new Zimbabwe Constitution, adopted in 2013, provides for all employees to engage in collective bargaining apart from members of the security services, to date, successive governments have lacked the political will to amend the relevant public service laws to bring them into conformity.

The two unions are the largest trade unions in the education sector and are calling on the government to ratify ILO Conventions 151 and 154 on collective bargaining in the public sector and to amend the Public Service Act (1995) to grant this right. 

Over the last year, PTUZ and ZIMTA have been spearheading a campaign to lobby the government to take action to ratify the conventions and amend the legislation. They have met with members of the Parliamentary Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and officials at the Ministry of Public Service to present their case. The unions have also raised the issue at the June 2019 ILO Conference in Geneva.

ZCTU leaders receive death threats with live bullets10-10-2019

On 16 July 2019, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) President Peter Mutasa and Secretary General Japhet Moyo received anonymous letters containing death threats and bullets. The letters warned them against continuing with the planned strike action on 22 July 2019, and included a threat to kill the two and harm their families. The writers of the letters said: “We have hired mercenaries to deal with you once and for all – unless you stop what you are planning.” Japhet Moyo received further threatening letters, with one of the letters containing a threat to rape his daughter.

On 10 October 2019, the ZCTU first vice president, Florence Taruvinga, also received threatening messages. Reports of these threats to the police have not yielded any results, as the police took no action to investigate.

The ZCTU demanded a full criminal investigation into these death threats.

Two trade union leaders kidnapped and brutalised14-09-2019

The president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), Dr Peter Magombeyi, was kidnapped on 14 September 2019 by three unidentified men, and for days his whereabouts were not known. Before his kidnapping, he had received a message from an unknown source which contained death threats. For years, Dr Magombeyi has been at the forefront in fighting for better working conditions for all doctors in the country. He was eventually released and left outside Harare.

Earlier in the year, on 5 June 2019, Obert Masaraure, the president of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ), was abducted at his house. ARTUZ leadership had denounced the relentless harassment and persecution by security forces, reporting twelve cases of members of the security forces interrogating and harassing their members ahead of the union’s job action planned for 3 June 2019.

Both Magombeyi and Masaraure have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment during their time in captivity.

Union delegates interrogated at Robert Mugabe Airport04-03-2019

Members of the visiting delegation from the Southern Africa Trade Union Co-Ordination Council (SATUCC) were interrogated by Zimbabwe’s security forces upon their arrival at Robert Mugabe Airport on 13 March 2019.

The delegation was in the country on a solidarity visit, and was subjected to serious interrogation by six state agents who demanded details on the purpose of their visit, where they would be staying, whom they were going to meet and issues to be discussed. SATUCC Executive Secretary Austin Muneku and Executive Council member Mahoronga Kavihuha stated that they felt harassed and intimidated with the actions of the state security apparatus.

The interrogation of the SATUCC delegation comes one month after the state reversed a deportation order against ITUC-Africa General Secretary Kwasi Adu Amankwah, who was in the country on the same mission. The latest action is clear indication of government’s intolerance to trade unionism.

Arrest of ZCTU leaders for calling a peaceful stay away action05-02-2019

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) Secretary General Japhet Moyo and President Peter Mutasa were taken into custody respectively on 21 and 25 January 2019, following the recent nationwide peaceful protest that was brutally repressed by police forces and the army. Moyo was arrested 21 January 2019, and Mutasa presented himself for arrest in the company of his lawyer 25 January, after being forced into hiding for several days. A few days prior to Mutasa’s arrest, police had broken into his home while he was out and allegedly assaulted his brother. While Mutasa was in hiding, ZCTU staff reported avoiding their offices for fear of police seeking his whereabouts.
Moyo and Mutasa were released from police custody on 4 February on US$2,000 bail each, but remain charged with subversion for “mobilising the nation to participate in anti-fuel hike protests”. Strict release conditions are preventing them from traveling to carry out duties they were elected to perform on behalf of the union members they represent. Mutasa must reportedly check in with police, in person, every day, while Moyo is required to check in similarly with police three times per week. Moyo adds that he was forced to give up the deed to his personal home as a guarantee against skipping bail.
ZCTU has faced other threats from authorities in recent months as Zimbabwe’s economy founders, and inflation and price hikes further complicate Zimbabwean workers’ lives. Mutasa and Moyo – along with 33 other trade unionists – were arrested and later released in October last year during an attempt to stop a national workers’ protest against a financial tax increase and rising prices. Some trade unionists were beaten, ZCTU Harare offices were cordoned off by some 150 police and ZCTU leaders not already in jail were forced into hiding.

Crackdown on Zimbabwe workers escalates16-01-2019

A government crackdown on citizens who on 14-16 January protested a 150 per cent fuel price hike escalated with violent clashes between protesters and the police forces and the army. Security forces used live ammunition against protesters, killing at least 12 persons and injuring over 320. There have been widespread reports of over 70 protesters sustaining gunshot wounds while taking part in the nationwide protests. Reports have also emerged of assaults carried out by the military in various parts of the capital, Harare, including men being rounded up and beaten by soldiers. The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission found that torture of protesters by government forces – consisting mostly of “indiscriminate and severe beatings” – has been widespread. Witnesses told the ZHRC that security forces from the Zimbabwe National Army and Zimbabwe Republic Police went into houses at night, asked the males to go outside and lie on the ground, and then beat them. Forces “would also target men and boys who live in houses that are near areas where looting took place or where barricades were set up and just make dragnet arrests without investigating,” the report said. Boys as young as 11 years old were allegedly beaten.
Following the complete shutdown of the internet, the Zimbabwe High Court has since issued an order to the government to restore the internet in full, judging that the security minister did not have the authority to issue this directive.
The government violence is the latest in a series of attacks on workers’ rights. “Peaceful assembly and association are a mark of a functioning democracy. The police’s vicious reaction is a blatant abuse of its power and is in violation of ILO standards, including the right to strike. The government must address popular discontent in the same way that it was created: through policy, not through violent repression,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

ZCTU members facing charges for organising a protest16-11-2018

On 16 November 2018, seven members of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) – including ZCTU Secretary General Japhet Moyo and ZCTU President Peter Mutasa – appeared in court to face charges of disruption of public order under the country’s draconian Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Twenty-six others are scheduled to appear in court in the southeastern city of Masvingo and the eastern city of Mutare at a later date.
Friday’s court appearance in Harare follows the arrest of the trade unionists on 11 October for attempting to demonstrate against new fiscal measures that were unilaterally implemented by the administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, including the introduction of a two per cent tax on all electronic transfers above US$10 and the imposition of tough new rules on foreign currency accounts. Some 150 police surrounded the ZCTU offices in Harare to stop the holding of the demonstration and violent clashes ensued, and the police beat and arrested ZCTU leaders and members.
Following a short court hearing, Harare magistrate Nyasha Vitori set a trial date of 11 December 2018 for the ZCTU leaders. If convicted, they face a mandatory 10-year jail term.

The army attacks ZCTU headquarters01-08-2018

On 1 August 2018, just a few days after the 30 July elections, the army fired live ammunition at the ZCTU headquarters in central Harare, shattering window panes and injuring a staff member. Seven people were killed that day as the army quelled protests from opposition supporters against delays in announcement of the election results.
The recent attacks on Zimbabwe’s trade union movement are part of a long history of repression against organised labour in the country. “Zvakawoma kudaro, ndoo kubasa kwedu”, which loosely translates as “difficult as it is, this is our work”, is the slogan of the ZCTU – and with good reason.

Zimbabwean government fires over 16,000 striking nurses18-04-2018

Zimbabwe’s government has sacked more than 16,000 striking nurses, in an apparently hardline attempt to quell labour unrest.
The nurses had walked out on 16 April over unpaid allowances and other issues, leaving hospitals understaffed. The action came days after junior doctors wrapped up a month-long walkout over pay and working conditions.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said the nurses had refused to return to work after US$17 million (£12m) was released to increase their pay. He chided them for not going back “in the interest of saving lives” and blamed the nurses for staging a “politically motivated” walkout. But the extraordinary move was simply a tactic aimed at forcing the nurses back to work.
Reviving the health sector has been a key challenge for President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who recently agreed to pay rises in order to end a doctors’ strike. He said unemployed and retired nurses would be hired to replace those who had been sacked.
The Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) said it had given its employer, the Health Services Board, until 14:00 GMT on Thursday to reverse the mass dismissal or face legal action.

Restrictions on strike action06-02-2018

The Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Trades Workers’ Union (ZCATWU) reports that since 2015 it has been difficult to organise a legal strike, especially on the increase of the sectoral minimum wage. Strike action is often restricted due to the application of the Public Order Security Act (POSA), which imposes strict conditions on strikes and demonstrations. ZCATWU also denounces the replacement of striking workers and the use of police forces to threaten striking workers with arrest and force them back to work.

Widespread union discrimination in the construction sector06-02-2018

The Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Trades Workers’ Union (ZCATWU) denounces many cases of discrimination against its members, including unfair dismissals and selective layoffs and retrenchments. Several ZCATWU members have also been victims of assault and harassment because of their trade union membership, mainly in multinationals and foreign-owned companies.
They also report that some employers prevent workers from participating in the activities organised by ZCATWU (e.g., training sessions) and refuse to consider the time spent in such trainings as working time and to maintain the remuneration of workers. They also deny access to companies’ premises to ZCATWU representatives.
ZCATWU further reports that some employers have tried several times to interfere in unions’ electoral process by imposing workers’ committees of their choice at shop-floor level.

Workers in the mining sector prevented from claiming wage arrears 29-01-2018

At the Hwange Colliery Company Ltd., a coal mine operation partly owned by government, workers have held outstanding wage arrears claims since 2014. However, they have been unable to assert these claims due to persistent threats made by the employer. On 29 January 2018, their spouses staged a demonstration on their behalf. A hundred police officers were deployed to prevent the demonstration. The President of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) had to intervene to appease tension and facilitate the demonstration.

Registration denied for the Zimbabwe Footwear Tanners and Allied Workers Union08-01-2018

The Zimbabwe Footwear Tanners and Allied Workers Union applied for registration in 2012 and was denied registration in 2015 after a complaint was brought by another union, the Zimbabwe leather Shoe and Allied Workers Union. Under sections 45 and 47 of the Labour Act, another union is allowed to challenge the registration of another union. The Labour Act also leaves registration to the discretion of the Registrar, which is in contravention of international standards. The union was finally registered in 2016 after ILO intervention. However, this long overdue registration was again challenged in the Labour Court by the same rival union. The Labour Court rescinded the registration in 2017. To this date, the Zimbabwe Footwear Tanners and Allied Workers Union remains unregistered.

Government places public sector workers under direct supervision of the President’s office 30-12-2017

At the end of December 2017, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Information announced that the body tasked with negotiation of public sector workers’ employment conditions – the Civil Service Commission – together with all public sector education institutions and the Zimbabwe Institute for Public Administration are being put under the direct supervision of the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC). The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) condemned the development, highlighting collective bargaining rights of public sector workers in the context of the ongoing negotiations concerning pension contributions and cancellation of vacation leave.

Strike action banned in the banking sector06-09-2017

On 6 September 2017 the police banned a demonstration of the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union (ZIBAWU). The union intended to demonstrate against Stanbic Bank for dismissing a workers’ representative, Mrs Verity Mutsamwira. The police argue that the notification given to them by the union did not comply with some provisions of Chapter 11:17 of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) despite the legal standing in the same Act that trade unions are exempted from notifying police when conducting their activities. The union brought a claim before the High Court, which ruled that the police ban was illegal and sanctioned the demonstration.

ZIBAWU leaders tried for criminal nuisance04-09-2017

On 13 March 2017 Tirivanhu Marimo, national organiser of the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers union (ZIBAWU) and chairperson of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) Young Workers Committee, and Paul Matsatsa, assistant organiser for the same union, were arrested by the police at the instigation of Stanbic Bank Zimbabwe Pvt Ltd. They were accused of shouting and placing a poster reading “This Bank does not respect Women’s Rights, Reinstate Verity” in a public place in front of the bank. Mrs Verity Mutsamwira, former chairperson of the bank’s Workers’ Committee, was unlawfully dismissed after refusing a transfer from Harare to a remote area as an attempt to silence her for having threatened a strike after a collective bargaining deadlock. Marimo and Matsatsa were charged with criminal nuisance under section 46 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9.23. The two were acquitted by the Magistrate Court in Harare on 4 September 2017.

Protesting former ZUPCO workers locked-out of the premises 30-05-2017

On 30 May 2017, former workers of the Zimbabwe United Passengers Company (ZUPCO) organised a protest at the company’s premises demanding pensions and terminal benefits that the company has not been paying since 1982. In consequence, Fidelity Life Pension Fund is refusing to pay workers their pensions until ZUPCO remits the missing contributions that as of 2015 amounted to ZWD 3 million (over USD 8,000). As many as 215 former workers took part in the protest, including the former chairperson of ZUPCO. In reaction, ZUPCO locked the protesters out of the premises. No one from the company’s management was available for comment on the industrial action.

President of ZCTU expelled from the National Social Security Authority03-05-2017

In the beginning of April 2017, the Public Service Labour and Social Welfare Minister, who chairs the tripartite National Social Security Authority (NSSA) board, informed the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) about arbitrary withdrawal of the ZCTU president Peter Mutasa from the NSSA board on allegations of disclosing “confidential” information about NSSA discussions to the union and to the media. Mutasa had not been directly informed about the allegations and the decision until 3 May when the official letter was sent by the Minister’s office. In reaction to interventions during the parliamentary discussion on 23 May, the Minister argued her unilateral right to appoint and expel the NSSA members.

Nationwide strike of the NRZ workers over non-payment of salaries 17-04-2017

National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) workers started a nationwide strike to force the company to pay US$86 million worth of outstanding salaries and wages that the NRZ owes to its nearly 7,000 workers of which 2,349 were former workers retrenched in 2015 on three months’ notice. In response, the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister ordered workers to immediately return to work. The workers vowed to continue with the strike even after being threatened with dismissal by the management. They argued that the majority of them did not have any more money to buy food or pay rent and school fees for their children. A similar strike action took place at the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) at Dura House in Harare, where 600 workers retrenched on three months’ notice had the right to an approximate US$5 million payment of overdue wages and salaries.

Government threatens to fire striking doctors 16-02-2017

The Zimbabwean Government threatened to fire doctors striking to demand better salaries and working conditions during the two-day strike action on 15-16 February 2017. The management of the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals issued a memo announcing that any doctor who joined the strike would be removed from the duty register and pay roll. These tactics have been followed in a number of other central hospitals. The Ministry of Health was instructed by the Government to compile names of doctors who joined the strike.

50 workers dismissed after strike in Vhumbachikwe Mine 30-01-2017

The Associated Mine Workers Union of Zimbabwe engaged in a legal fight against Vhumabachikwe Mine – a company that operates under Duration Gold, owned largely by the British-based Clarity Capital – which unilaterally dismissed 50 workers for engaging in a strike in December 2016. The workers engaged in the strike after learning through their retired colleagues that there was no pension for them, as Vhumbachikwe has not been honouring its obligations to remit workers’ pension deductions to the Mining Industry Pension Fund. The company stopped payments in 2013, which resulted in the company owing workers almost $3 million in unpaid contributions.

Vumbachikwe Gold Mine fires over 200 striking workers07-01-2017

In November 2016, workers at Vumbachikwe Gold Mine located near Gwanda town embarked on a strike in protest against monthly wages as low as USD 21 and to demand their outstanding salaries dating back three years, as well as pension contributions, which since 2013 the employer had failed to remit despite deducting money from workers. According to the National Mine Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe (NMWUZ), the company was also failing to remit workers’ subscriptions to the union. Vumbachikwe is run by Duration Gold and the majority shareholder, Clarity Capital, is a British-based company. The management responded by dismissing those who participated in the strike – over 200 miners – and by suing workers and the NMWUZ for organising an allegedly illegal strike. The company gave dismissed workers eviction orders to vacate company houses by 7 February 2017. The National Mine Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe (NMWUZ) filed a complaint arguing unjustified dismissal of the striking workers.

Revenue authority raids trade union education funds 17-11-2016

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) has seized over US$50,000 belonging to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) Education Fund because of alleged fiscal arrears. Although the union pledged to reverse the seizing order, arguing that the funds were purely for the implementation of education activities - as per an agreement with various international trade union donors - and that the seizure would greatly affect their operations, ZIMRA refused the appeal and remitted the funds to the Ministry of Finance. The Government ignored the argument that ZCTU tax compliance is structurally affected by the behaviour of companies who are not remitting trade union dues or not paying their employees.

ZDMWU calls for an end to “yellow unions” at Chinese mine 19-09-2016

The Zimbabwe Diamond Mining Workers’ Union stepped in to represent mine workers at the Chinese-owned Detroop mine following allegations of exploitation and violation of labour and environmental laws. Widespread illegal and abusive labour practices were occurring at the mine, such as senior management staff forcing workers to pay $50 per person every month in order to secure jobs; overtime work not being remunerated; the systematic use of “casual” workers for continuous employment relationships over a considerable period of time; the underpayment of women workers on the basis of gender; and the establishment of a corrupt, bogus trade union organisation to falsely represent workers’ interests.

19 activists arrested at the ZINASU General council meeting 24-08-2016

The General Council meeting of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU), scheduled to review the state of tertiary education in the country, failed to commence after police disrupted the meeting and arrested 19 participants, including the former ZINASU president. A week before this unjustified disruption of the students’ meeting the police also unlawfully arrested and assaulted three women participating in a demonstration organised by the National Electoral Reform Agenda (NERA), a coalition of 18 political parties campaigning for electoral reform.

Police harassment towards demonstrating workers, arrests of journalists and threats against users of the social media 07-07-2016

Thousands of public sector workers demonstrated in Harare following the Government’s announcement about withholding pay for state workers due to the economic situation in the country. The Government responded by calling the action unauthorised and threatened sanctions against protesting workers. Some teachers who joined the strike were intimidated into returning to work. Arrests took place in Harare and some towns in Victoria Falls, namely Zvishavane, Kumbirai Mafunda and Chipenge. The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists specifically condemned the arrest of five journalists reporting on the strike action, who were forced by the police to delete their photographs in order to be released. The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe said that social media and cellphones were being used to distribute “abusive and subversive materials” about the demonstrations and warned that those responsible could be prosecuted. Harare was simultaneously hit by the protests of minibus taxi drivers who rioted against the abusive police practice of routinely demanding money when stopping vehicles for alleged technical checks. Police responded by unleashing dogs, firing tear gas and arresting 95 people.

Government leaves Chiadzwa Diamond Workers unprotected when forcing merger of diamond companies 15-04-2016

The Government decided in early 2016 to consolidate the Chiadzwa diamond mining companies (namely Mbada Diamonds, Anjin Investments, Marange Resources, Diamond Mining Company, Kusena Diamonds, Jinan and Gye Nyame) under the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC). No liability agreements have been reached regarding the payment of overdue salaries and severance pay as well as damages for unfair dismissal. Salary arrears, running into millions, have been outstanding for between 6-18 months while workers continued to be at work.

Court bans agricultural workers’ union leader from farm25-02-2016

A High Court judge has barred leader of the Zimbabwe Horticulture Agro-industries and General Agricultural Workers’ Union (Zhagawu), Mr Raymond Sixpence, from holding labour meetings at Tavistock Estates in Beatrice. The court made the ruling after the farm owner, Cristopher Hawgood, took Sixpence to court on allegations of interfering with the farm’s operations and accusing him of underpaying his employees.
Justice Maxwell Takuva granted the peace order at the end of February 2016 and barred Sixpence from visiting or “making unnecessary meetings to Tavistock Farm without police permission or Tavistock’s consent”. Documents reveal that Zhagawu has been at loggerheads with Tavistock Farm over the welfare of workers and alleges that the white farmer is refusing to allow his labourers to join the union, a charge denied by the farm owner.

Police beat up protesters for demanding salaries04-01-2016

On 4 January police blocked a street march through central Harare by a handful of protesters demanding the immediate payment of outstanding salaries to civil servants.
The placard waving protesters, led by the Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (RTUZ), managed to evade police attention from Harare’s busy Market Square bus terminus while heading for New Government Complex. This was the place where they intended to present their petition to the Finance and Public Service Ministries. Nevertheless, a group of anti-riot officers blocked them when they were nearing the legislative building: RTUZ secretary general Obert Masaraura and activists Robson Chere and Pride Mkono were beaten up by the police and then taken to Harare Central police where they were later released without any charges against them. Rutendo Kawadza, an activist with the Zimbabwe Activists Alliance (ZAA) who joined the march as well, was left hospitalised for injuries sustained during the ordeal.

Supreme Court authorises selective punishment of employees01-01-2016

In January 2016 the Supreme Court’s ruling authorised the selective punishment of employees. This means that the employer can arbitrarily decide who to charge if a group of employees commit an offence. It is clear that such ruling leaves space for selective punishment/firing of trade union leaders inside the enterprise who might be the victims of acts of retaliation to discourage trade union activity in the enterprise.

Angeline Chitambo – who lost her job in defence of workers’ rights – was re-elected president of Zimbabwe Energy Workers Union (ZEWU)01-01-2016

Mrs Angeline Chitambo, president of the Zimbabwe Energy Workers Union (ZEWU) and employee of the state-owned Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), was suspended four years ago together with 135 other members of the union’s leadership. This retaliation act occurred because they threatened to go on strike over ZESA’s failure to comply with the 2012 agreement on salary increment. In September 2012 Chitambo was dismissed without a fair hearing: the examination of her case, in fact, took place in her absence and in the absence of her legal and union representatives.
After more than four years she is still waiting for a court decision to be reinstated in her workplace, despite court findings in her favour. Nevertheless, on January 2016 she was re-elected ZEWU’s president.

Police block workers’ protest in Harare and occupy union offices08-08-2015

On 8 August 2015 police forces besieged the Zimbabwe Congress Trade Union (ZCTU) offices in Harare, arresting the leaders of the trade union in order to stop the announced demonstration.
The protestors wanted to express their anger and displeasure over job losses that hit the country following two Supreme Court rulings of July 2015. The first one dated 17 July made it legal for all employers to unilaterally terminate workers’ contracts and offload them on three months’ notice without having to pay any layoff benefit. The second one dated 27 July – between National Railway of Zimbabwe (NRZ) and Railway Artisan Union – gave employers the right to withdraw housing and education allowances, stating that these were not a right or an entitlement. Such significant erosion of workers’ rights led to protests in Harare organised for 8 August 2015. The attempted demonstration was accompanied by an overwhelming presence of heavily armed police officers who blocked the entrance of ZCTU – where hundreds of activists were gathered – and detained ZCTU leaders George Nkiwane and Japhet Moyo as well as the chairperson of Young Workers, Ian Makoshore; Informal Economy Coordinator Elijah Mutemeri; National Engineering Workers Union Women’s Advisory Council member Sekai Manyau; General Secretary of Food Federation Runesu Dzimiri and the General Secretary of Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) Raymond Majongwe. The police also took into the trucks anyone with red clothing (the distinguishing colour of ZCTU) and dropped them at various places in order to prevent their further gathering. Trade union leaders were also released after a short time.

Employers refuse to bargain in good faith 27-07-2015

Unions, especially agricultural workers, have reported verbal and physical attacks by employers during negotiations.
Furthermore, after the aforementioned Supreme Court ruling of 27 July 2015 between National Railway of Zimbabwe (NRZ) and Railway Artisan Union that declared arbitrators’ decisions lacking of any juridical value, employers feel legitimised to delay or refuse to negotiate. According to the Supreme Court, in fact, arbitrators have no power to intervene in conflicts arising with respect to collective bargaining processes, and this gives full freedom to employers to unilaterally boycott collective bargaining tables.

Union registration:19-06-2015

In 2012, 850 workers at Bata Shoe Company based in Gweru withdrew their membership from the Zimbabwe Leather Shoe and Allied Workers Union and formed a new union centre, the Zimbabwe Footwear Tanners and Allied Workers’ Union (ZFTAWU). On 2 August 2013, the notice of application for registration was published in the government Gazette General Notice 379/2013. The Zimbabwe Leather Shoe and Allied Workers Union opposed the registration of the new union but ZFTAWU never received the opposing papers. On 9 January 2015, the registrar made a decision denying registration on the grounds that the union only represented a minority of workers. On 19 February 2015, ZFTAWU filed a complaint with the Labour Court.

ZANU-PF interference in demonstration:19-06-2015

On 11 April 2015, members of Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF attempted to intimidate
ZCTU members during the nation-wide demonstration in Bulawayo and Gweru and distributed flyers which claimed that the protests had been cancelled with false signatures. Some ZCTU members had to lock themselves inside the union building as ZANU-PF besieged the regional offices in Bulawayo. The demonstrations aimed to highlight a range of issues affecting workers, including the decision to freeze and cut salaries, introduce labour market flexibility, the non or late payment of workers’ salaries, and the failure to pass on membership subscriptions to the unions – all contrary to existing collective agreements.

March blocked by police:19-06-2015

On 18 February 2015, the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) was not permitted to hold a march on the Global Day of Action for the Right to Strike called by the ITUC. Police blocked the march demanding the PTUZ to produce a clearance letter from the Public Service Commission, provide details of the marchers and registration numbers of vehicles to be used. The union had notified police about the march seven days in advance.

Suspension of Farai Katsande15-10-2013

Farai Katsande, President of the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers’ Union, who was suspended from his position in the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe on 15 October 2013 for allegedly absenting himself from work while he was attending a union activity in Kenya. Previously bank management attempted to prevent Farai Katsande from engaging in trade union activities by promoting him to a supervisory position which would have disqualified him from his union membership.

Police brutality towards the striking Hwange Mine Workers wives07-10-2013

On 7 October 2013, the Zimbabwe Republic Police fired teargas and beat up over 100 women, accompanied by their children, who were protesting against the Hwange Colliery Company Limited. The women walked for 20 km to the General Managers’ office demanding their husbands’ salaries owed over five months. Two women sustained serious injuries and were admitted to hospital. In April 2013, the company suspended 520 workers over salary disputes and alleged breach of the company’s code of conduct. The workers had gone on strike over outstanding employee share option schemes which Hwange Colliery Company failed to provide.

Employers refuse to bargain in good faith20-08-2013

The Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Employers Association has refused to bargain in good faith and as a result no collective agreement has been reached since 2007.

Interference in collective agreements20-08-2013

Public authorities require the payment of 1,000 USD for the registration of collective agreements which is unreasonably high.

Employers withhold union dues20-08-2013

The Zimbabwe Security Guards Workers Union has not received union dues for over a year. Some companies (such as Trust Me Security, Catiss Security, Greens Security, and Cash Talk Security) are refusing to deduct union dues. Other employers (such as Midsec Security, Chitkem Security, Professional Security, etc.) deduct union dues but fail to remit them to the union in a timely manner.

The Zimbabwe Amalgamated Railways Workers’ Union, the Zimbabwe Railway Artisans Union, the Railway Association of Engineman and the Railway Association of Yard Operating Staff have not received union dues for over two years.

Employers are not respecting collective agreements20-08-2013

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority refused to comply with wage increases awarded by an arbitration panel.

Previous authorisation requirements to establish unions20-08-2013

Public authorities have withheld the registration certificate for the Zimbabwe Metal Energy & Allied Workers’ Union for more than 7 years.

1,500 diamond miners sacked for striking 20-08-2013

The Chinese diamond mining firm Anjin Investments has sacked 1,500 workers who participated in a strike over pay and better working conditions.

Workers have been beaten with clenched fists, kicked around and called racist names by the employers.

Many of the workers have also reported serious sexual assaults by the bosses.

21 union leaders dismissed for leading a strike19-05-2013

21 labour union leaders were dismissed in January for allegedly spearheading 12 days of industrial action at Falcon Gold Dalny Mine in Kadoma. Two of them were reinstated in unclear circumstances in a move described by the appellants as a “divide and rule” tactic.

On the 15th of May, 19 of the workers have taken the matter to the Labour Court contesting their dismissal.

According to the National Mine Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe (NMWUZ), Falcon Gold Dalny Mine threatens the existence of a registered trade union. After the strike in January, the company dismissed the entire branch of the union.

Interference in strike action28-02-2013

The mining company, Renco Mine, in Masvingo called on the police to end a legitimate and peaceful strike by its employees in February 2013 over non-payment of wages for a period of seven months.

Interference in trade union activities18-01-2013

Police and state intelligence services regularly attend and spy on the trade union activities. On 18 January 2013, police demanded to participate in ZCTU meetings.

Collective bargaining agreements not implemented31-12-2011

In October a Harare labour lawyer, Arthur Marar said that companies were not honouring collective bargaining agreements, with many employers failing to pay or delaying payment to workers. Furthermore they were failing to disclose full information during negotiations, as required by law.

ILO Commission of Inquiry finds serious violations31-12-2010

An ILO Commission of Inquiry confirmed in March that Zimbabwe’s government was responsible for serious violations of fundamental rights, in particular the freedom to organise trade unions, the right to collective bargaining, the right to strike, and protection of trade unionists from discrimination. The Commission found the violations to be both systematic and systemic and highlighted that it “sees a clear pattern of arrests, detentions, violence and torture by the security forces against trade unionists that coincide with Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) nationwide events, indicating that there has been some centralised direction to the security forces to take such action”. It also concluded that “there was another clear pattern of control over ZCTU trade union gatherings, be they internal meetings or public demonstrations, through the application of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA)” and that “detentions and targeted violence have been used to intimidate both leaders and rank and file members of the trade union in a systematic and systemic manner”. The POSA has been used regularly as a pretext for anti-union action by the Mugabe regime.

The COI report made a series of recommendations to the Zimbabwe authorities including an immediate halt to the victimisation of trade unionists, the creation of an effective Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, training on human rights for the security forces, strengthening of the rule of law and legislative changes to comply with international labour laws.

Union activities obstructed under multitude of laws30-11-2009

The 2002 Public Order and Security Act (POSA) bans any public gathering held without police permission. Although public gatherings held by a registered trade union for bona fide trade union activities are exempted from the act, in practice it is still used to obstruct union activities and harass trade unionists. Under the POSA, people found guilty of disturbing the peace, security or public order, or of invading the rights of other people, are liable to a fine and/or imprisonment for up to ten years.

The reformed Penal Code of 2006 is also often used to arrest and imprison trade unionists. The Miscellaneous Offence Act carries less severe penalties, and is applied when charges of a public order offence cannot stand up in court. Blocking a public thoroughfare, for example, is an offence under this Act. Under the Labour Act, those taking part in an illegal strike can face prison sentences of up to five years.

Ignoring international labour standards 30-11-2008

For many years, the Mugabe government repeatedly refused to cooperate with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and for two years running refused to appear before the Committee on the Application of Standards at the International Labour Conference. As a result, the ILO decided in November 2008 to apply one of its toughest measures, a Commission of Inquiry, to examine complaints concerning the non-observance by Zimbabwe of the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87) and the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98). The Commission of Inquiry began its work in February 2009.

Harassment and intimidation by ZANU-PF30-11-2008

In practice, trade union members still face harassment and intimidation from the authorities and supporters of Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) is seen as being close to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and has been a particular target for harassment as a result, although the MDC’s participation in the government has helped the situation slightly. Several incidents occurred during the year, however. The ZCTU reported, for example, that its District Committee member in Karoi, Mr. Toindepi Tsigo, was assaulted by ZANU-PF thugs returning from a ZANU-PF meeting in Harare. The youths attacked Mr. Tsigo and removed his ZCTU T-shirt, saying they did not wish to see a ZCTU person in Karoi. Teachers also reported being were terrorised by ZANU-PF youths over the summer further to protest action.

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