THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has begun mobilising for a national general strike of both public and private sector workers.
The event, according to ZCTU president Peter Mutasa, would be reminiscent of the January 2019 fuel hike protests organised by the body which saw 21 people being killed by the military during the demonstration.
Mutasa said the date for the strike would be announced soon.
“Workers have been demanding that they be paid a living wage. Since February, the labour movement representatives at the Tripartite Negotiating Forum have been clear that workers must be paid in US dollars in order to restore the value that has been eroded by inflation and devaluation,” he said.
“The government and business representatives requested for six months to either stabilise the economy or dollarise. The government has dollarised almost everything, including trade and taxes, except salaries.”
“Most workers are starving and suffering. The minimum wage is $2 500 against a Poverty Datum Line of $17 244. Some workers like domestic sector workers are earning Zimdollars which can only buy a bag of mealie meal and a bottle of cooking oil. Many workers are failing to pay rentals, buy food, clothing, pay for medical care and other necessities of life.”
He added that all workers were affected, hence the need for them to take part in the general strike whose dates will be announced soon.
“All workers are affected, be it private or public sector, formal or informal economy workers. That is why we are advocating for collective action. everyone in this country is petrified because the government has been brutal. There is no difference between this government and Rhodesian or South African apartheid regimes in terms of repression,” Mutasa said.
“However, just like in the past, the working class should fight for justice. It is either workers peacefully resist these fascist policies or we perish. Many workers are already dying because of lack of medical attention. Others are committing suicide because of mental health problems related to economic hardships. Workers have no choice and have nothing to fear except the chains of exploitation and oppression gagging all of us.”
Mutasa revealed that workers were ready to face any form of force that might be used by State security apparatus to stop the strike.
“For now, we have set every Mondays as days of mobilising workers and peaceful protest activities. We are demanding US dollar salaries, reduction of high cost of living and sufficient COVID-19 response. So for now, workers are called upon to organise and participate in the Monday activities everywhere around the country. Dates for the general strike will be announced in due course,” he said.