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Survival of the fittest in Zimbabwe

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28 May, 2015Unions in Zimbabwe met in May to discuss strategies to make them relevant to worker struggles after company closures and massive layoffs, a result of the ongoing economic crisis.

At a leadership meeting in May 2015, Zimbabwean unions shared their challenges, including a trend for companies to not pay across membership dues after this has been deducted from workers’ wages. This further weakens the unions that are already struggling with declining membership that reflect job being haemorrhaged by Zimbabwe’s ailing industries.

Affiliates in the textile and the metal sectors are prepared to reconsider their positions on mergers as there seems little option if they are to survive in the current economic environment. Magnus Palmgren from Swedish trade union and IndustriALL Global Union affiliate IF Metall took part in the meeting and made a presentation on the trade union Swedish model.

Unions emphasized the need to organize, train paralegals to handle grievances, as well as train a pool of union negotiators for collective bargaining. Leaders were urged to be gender sensitive during the selection for more women negotiators and paralegals are needed to represent women on gender related issues at the workplace.

Women want more from Zimbabwe unions

A woman’s meeting of Zimbabwean affiliates acknowledged that their absence in trade unions structures was the root cause of their misrepresentation in decision-making structures.

Angeline Chitambo, President of the Zimbabwe Electricity Workers Union and a member of IndustriAll Executive Committee shared her experiences as a woman leader and urged women workers to support each other to be active shop stewards and use gender related issues at the workplace as tools for organizing women in Zimbabwe.

The meeting called for more participation of women in trade union structures. Participants discussed the importance of women in the union having practical knowledge of trade union issues and building their skills on leadership, collective bargaining and organizing, acquisition of knowledge on trade unions issues. The need for women negotiators was also emphasized, especially on health and safety issues affecting women specifically which are often overlooked by employers and male trade unions leaders.