Workers’ Day has lost its lustre

Survival has become a buzzword in most corporate boardrooms as executives plot to ensure the ship stays afloat in the face of economic headwinds.

Zimbabwean workers today join the rest of the world in celebrating International Workers Day amid a deteriorating economy which has made collective bargaining an exercise in futility as it has lost meaning.

The day comes on the backdrop of a tough economic environment which has spawned company closures, retrenchments and a surge in wage theft with employees not getting paid for their sweat or being underpaid.

Survival has become a buzzword in most corporate boardrooms as executives plot to ensure the ship stays afloat in the face of economic headwinds.

In government, the message is the same as it wants to cut the coat according to the size of the cloth.

Former Finance minister Tendai Biti popularised fiscal prudence saying we should “eat what we kill”.

This has affected employees in the country who feel they are getting the short end of the stick after toiling throughout the month.

In the public sector, employees are crying foul as they have been bombarded with promises and lies.

Despite assurancies to improve the welfare of the civil service, the wheels have been moving slowly on that front, creating a dissatisfied workforce which uses the workplace to  do “side hustles”.

The situation is not, however, rosy in the private sector where “hustlers” have emerged selling anything from perfumes to roasted nuts to supplement their salaries.

This comes as the national statistical agency, ZimStat, said the Food Poverty Line (FPL) for one person rose by about 50% to ZiG424,95 in April from the previous month, piling more pressure on citizens.

The Food Poverty Line represents the amount of money that can afford an individual a daily minimum energy intake of 2 100 calories for one not to be deemed poor.

The rise in the FPL for one person comes as salaries have lagged, creating the working poor.

All the economic problems emanate from the animal called politics which has haunted the economy since the beginning of the new millennium.

When the politics is right, like during the government of national unity (GNU), the economy responds accodingly. 

Zimbabwe enjoyed a modicum of stability during the GNU era which saw the introduction of a multi-currency regime after years of hyperinflation.

Today, workers will assemble at stadiums where trade union leaders will address them. It will be different from the past as trade unions are struggling to stay afloat. When companies retrench, trade unions lose part of their constituency.

Increased informalisation has left trade unions on the edge as most new employees are not members of trade unions.

The only vocal trade unions are those representing government employees. However, they will go up to a certain level to avoid a stand off with the employer.

The no work no pay policy in the civil service means that State employees cannot participate in stay-aways.

For the Zimbabwean worker, Workers’ Day is like any other day only that they will be at home. 

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