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Cablegate: Zimbabwe Labor: If You Prick Us, Do We Not

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001703

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/S
USDOC FOR AMANDA HILLIGAS
TREASURY FOR OREN WYCHE-SHAW
PASS USTR FLORIZELLE LISER
STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON
STATE FOR DRL/IL

SENSITIVE

E. O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB EAID EINV ECON PGOV ZI ZCTU
SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE LABOR: IF YOU PRICK US, DO WE NOT
BLEED?

Ref: Harare 00864

1. (SBU) Summary: In wide-ranging discussions with
EconOff, Zimbabwe Confederation of Trade Unions (ZCTU)
affiliates described the toil required to fight for
members' living wages. While workers and employers agree
on the macro problem (the GOZ), disputes remain over
wages and working conditions. Many unions expressed
dissatisfaction with the GOZ's "look East" policy and a
number remain targets of GOZ repression. End Summary.

2. (SBU) EconOff spoke with the Commercial Workers Union
of Zimbabwe's (CWOZ) Secretary General Taringa, Zimbabwe
Catering and Hotel Workers Union's (ZCHWU) Secretary
General Mudzengerere, Zimbabwe Construction and Allied
Trade Workers Union's (ZCATWU) General Secretary Gumbo,
Associated Mine Workers Union of Zimbabwe's (AMWOZ)
General Secretary Midzi, and Zimbabwe Domestic and Allied
Workers Union's (ZDAWU) Deputy Secretary General Ruyi.

---------------------------------------
WAGES, THE ECONOMY, AND ASIAN INFLUENCE
---------------------------------------
3. (SBU) In Zimbabwe, the employers' council and labor
union of each economic sector negotiate labor issues. In
Zimbabwe's strained economic environment, labor
negotiations are a mixed bag. While CWOZ, ZCHWU, and
ZCATWU report generally amicable negotiations, the AMWOZ
and ZDAWU complain that employers refuse to follow labor
laws and increase wages consistent with inflation.

4. (SBU) Zimbabwean labor officials provided a unique
window into the local economy. For example, Midzi
believes mining companies do earn small profits from
global mineral prices. However, he expects that South
African firms will eventually control the mining sector.
Ruyi asserts that more employers violate workers rights
than follow the law. Mudzengerere notes that tourists
visiting Victoria Falls tend to spend the night in
Zambia. Gumbo states that the construction industry has
shrunk from 120,000 to 15,000 employees since 2000.

5. (SBU) In 2000, as part of its anti-Western slant, the
GOZ launched a "look East" policy focused on China,
Malaysia, and Indonesia. With Zimbabwe's overvalued
currency making imports increasingly competitive, the
Chinese in particular have been able to gain a foothold
in many retail sectors. Senior union officials across the
board expressed nothing but dissatisfaction with the
growth of Eastern businesses in Zimbabwe as a result of
the look east policy. Midzi cited regional unions'
complaints of Eastern business treating workers worse
than Western; Taringa noted that Chinese firms hire
workers on short-term contracts, making organizing
harder; Gumbo complained that Chinese firms stay outside
of employer councils, fail to pay minimum wages, and
negotiate only with the GOZ.

--------------------------------------
SPLINTERS ARE A THORN IN UNIONS' SIDE
--------------------------------------
6. (SBU) Union officials recounted to EconOff a long list
of repressive tactics by the GOZ. The GOZ targets the
ZCTU by arresting its leaders and by breaking up its
rallies. [Note: On October 12, 2004, the Zimbabwean
police arrested three members of the Communications and
Allied Service Workers Union, who were striking over the
failure of the state-owned post and telecommunications
company to pay a wage increase that was awarded after
arbitration. End Note.] In an attempt to draw membership
away from the ZCTU, which it perceives as sympathetic to
the opposition MDC, the GOZ also created an alternative
labor body, the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions
(ZFTU)(Ref). Union officials complained that these
actions foster confusion and force legitimate unions to
spend scarce resources to shore up their base. ZCTU-
affiliate officials complained that the ZFTU plagiarizes
ZCTU-negotiated agreements and attempts to banish
legitimate unions from whole geographic regions.

7. (SBU) Comment: Zimbabwe's severe economic downturn,
characterized most vividly by a sharp decline in real
wages, has combined with intense competition from Asian
firms and GOZ repression to create an hostile environment
for the ZCTU. Unfortunately for workers, at the time that
they are most in need of strong union representation, the
unions are finding it increasingly difficult to play this
role.

Weisenfeld

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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