Hearings began on 16 August for the 135 trade unionists to have been suspended without pay by ZESA management on 17 July. Although all workers face the same charges, there has been no consistency in the court judgements so far, with some dismissals confirmed and others acquitted, along a regional divide. IndustriALL has strongly condemned this union-busting treatment of its affiliate the Zimbabwe Energy Workers Union (ZEWU).
As previously reported, the ZEWU leadership has also been suspended, and ZEWU President Angeline Chitambo, who is a titular member of IndustriALL’s Executive Committee, is facing suspension on different charges, together with a possible gagging order. At this difficult time for ZEWU, the union’s General Secretary is sick. IndustriALL member unions in Southern Africa are rallying support for ZEWU, through financial and practical assistance to fight the case.
As time passes, suspended workers face increasing hardship without their salary and conditions, which were at poverty levels to begin with. The company hopes that ZEWU will accept to drop their claim to a hard-won arbitration award for increased salary. Workers on the lowest pay grade were ruled to be entitled to salary increases of US$190 to US$275, a level still well below a living wage.
When management ignored ZEWU’s demand for their members’ entitlements through the arbitration award, they threatened strike action. For that they are now facing this strong persecution.
Pressure is now building on ZESA to drop the cases against its workers and to fully implement the improvements of salary in line with the arbitration award. Workers from around the world are responding through the Labourstart campaign, and trade union affiliates of IndustriALL are writing on behalf of their members to Chief Executive Josh Chifamba. Join these actions today.
See a previous IndustriALL report here.