AS WE BUILD TOWARDS MAY DAY
14 April 2016
International Social Workers’ Day was commemorated a few days ago to honour and appreciate the social worker.
Soon it will be May 1, 2016, and we will be commemorating the international Workersâ€™ Day or May Day.
The day is, or should be, a celebration of workers and labour movements. May 1 is a national holiday in more than 80 countries â€“ and Zimbabwe is included in that long list.
Other countries do not really cherish the day like we do in Zimbabwe and they only recognize it unofficially, the way fathersâ€™ day is commemorated in Zimbabwe.
There was a time when the day meant a lot in Zimbabwe, when workersâ€™ were not just celebrated but also had their issues and concerns heard and addressed.
May Day was a day that brought hope to the workers of Zimbabwe but today we are singing a different tune.
The labour movement in Zimbabwe has lost its purpose and there is no one within the workersâ€™ leaderships that looks like they have the workersâ€™ interests at heart.
Workers are being abused and tokenized by so called trade unionists, who clearly have other agendas.
At independence in 1980, the movement had as its base a formal sector working class of around 1,2 million, which grew to 1,5 million in 1999.
Labour experts say this constituted approximately 10 percent and later 12 percent of the total population but the figure has since gone below the 10 percent mark as workers have since forgotten what it means to be members of a labour movement.
May Day should be a platform for workers across the country to raise their concerns but now it is a mere ladder for people with other intentions to trample workers for personal pursuits.
It has been an important official holiday in Zimbabwe that gives workers an important platform to press for improved working conditions and more importantly matters related to wages.
Todayâ€™s worker does not know who to tell when her concerns are not heard or when her rights are being trampled on.
In the past May Day celebrations would typically feature elaborate rallies, march pasts and worker processions with workers holding placards that communicated their grievances but today all that has changed.
We should see less fights for personal gain, less bickerings about which workers union is legitimate and which is not.
We should see people who have the welfare of workers at heart and will never seek their own interests that have nothing to do with workers leading the labour movements.
That is what a workers union should be about â€“ serving the interests of the worker.
We have workers that are living below the poverty datum line in the country, we have employers that are taking advantage of workers and giving them low wages and keeping them in dangerous working environments but nothing is being done about it.