#Timefor8: Unions’ actions at national level - Zimbabwe

Trade unions succeed in ensuring the integration of decent work into Zimbabwe’s new development plan 2021-2025. The plan will act as a new entry point for the labour movement to promote the central role of decent work in overcoming the severe challenges the country is facing, and in supporting recovery from the COVID 19 pandemic.

Zimbabwe’s long-lasting crises have generated policy inconsistencies, deindustrialisation, working poverty, indecent working conditions, rising informalisation of the economy and terrible attacks on trade unionists, including arbitral arrests, abductions, victimisation, and torture. Against this challenging backdrop, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has remained strong and resilient. In support, the ZCTU has counted on the work of its think-tank, the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ), which has continued to produce evidence-based research, and policy recommendations promoting decent work.

The effort and endurance of the two organisations paid off towards the end of 2020 when the government invited them to contribute their input to the 2021-2025 National Development Strategy. The result was that for the first time in Zimbabwe’s history, the national development plan, incorporated key workers’ inputs, anchored on decent work and on the prioritisation of SDG 8 for recovery from the Covid-19 crisis and for the realisation of the 2030 Agenda.

Thus, the plan includes the following ten specific decent work strategies: 1) Developing and implementing a national action plan for the formalisation of small and medium-sized enterprises active in the informal economy; 2)Operationalising the national Tripartite Negotiating Forum; 3)Strengthening labour migration governance; 4)Modernising Zimbabwe’s Labour Case Management System; 5)Strengthening the Labour Inspectorate System to upscale the protection of labour rights and the promotion of safe work environments; 6) Synching labour laws with labour dynamics; 7) Expanding the coverage of occupational health and safety programmes to include the informal and public service sectors in; 8) Reviewing the Employment Policy including active labour market policies; 9) Engaging the private sector in the establishment of incubation hubs, labour intensive public works programmes, remodelling of skills and entrepreneurship development; and 10) Developing a functioning Labour Market Information System.

In addition, the plan includes the following indicators to monitor progress: 1) Increasing the level of formal employment from 24 per cent in 2020 to 30 per cent by 2025; 2) Reducing precarious employment rate from 19 per cent to 14 per cent by 2025; and 3) Increasing the proportion of informal economy workers covered by Occupational Safety and Health Services from zero per cent to 20 per cent by 2025. In addition, the national development plan also stipulates the creation of an unemployment benefit scheme for the first time in the country.

“Workers are the backbone of the economy, integrating decent work in the national development strategy plan is a huge step towards economic revival if implemented to the letter,” said Florence Taruvinga, First Vice President of ZCTU.

As the plan is being implemented, ZCTU and LEDRIZ are focussing on monitoring this process and on ensuring that its targets are realised to translate to real change for workers and their communities.

At the same time, the organisations will continue the work undertaken in December 2020, when they organised six policy workshops for workers across the country to popularise the national development plan and to work out strategies for advocacy and engagement.

Thus far, the ITUC’s Trade Union Development Cooperation Network (TUDCN), with whom LEDRIZ and the ZCTU produced the reports Trade Union Focus on the SDGs in Zimbabwe in 2020 and in 2017, and the ILOhave greatly supported LEDRIZ and ZCTU’s advocacy programmes around the SDGs. The positive offshoots are beginning to materialise.



For more information
Contact Naome Chakanya, LEDRIZ