By Obey Manayiti
A union representing farm workers has bemoaned the alleged exploitation of its members by employers, saying President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government needs to investigate the matter.
Progressive Agriculture and Allied Industries Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Paawuz) secretray general Raymond Sixpence said working conditions for farm workers continued to deteriorate.
“We appreciate that our economy is agro-based,” he said.
“We are not against white farmers or black farmers. Our biggest challenge is black monopoly capitalists or white monopoly capitalists.”
Sixpence said the government must review its policies, including collective bargaining agreements that pegged farm workers’ wages at $75 a month.
He said the law was also silent on protective clothing for farm workers, which exposed them to abuse by employers.
Sixpence said the new administration must ensure politicians do not interfere in labour disputes.
“Politicians must not be involved in labour disputes. We have farmers that end up seeking the protection of politicians to evade meeting their obligations,” he added.
“Politicians would come and victimise and intimidate workers. That must stop, disputes are handled by workers’ unions.
“We want production but that must not be based on workers’ exploitation. Everyone must benefit in the whole value chain; workers’ rights must be respected.”
He said the government must also not discriminate when dealing with labour unions.
“All unions must be incorporated into national employment council,” he said. “We are not happy with the situation prevailing now whereby Gapwuz and Hgapwuz are cherry picked to represent workers.
“In any case, these unions are the ones which played a critical role in the gazetting of the statutory instrument that is impoverishing the workers like for example, an employee can go for four to five years as a contract worker and when dismissed they will not be entitled to anything.”