On 12 January 2022, Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) members engaged in a protest action at the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) building, where the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) meeting was taking place between the government and trade unions. The demonstrators were demanding the restoration of their salaries to 2018 levels – levels prior to the government’s implementation of austerity measures. As the teachers gathered at the venue, police arrived with guns and batons. The teachers were threatened, assaulted and made to lie on their stomachs. Sixteen leaders of ARTUZ were arrested, including the ARTUZ president, Obert Masaraure.
Right to free speech and assembly
On 1 May 2021, May Day celebrations by the Chitungwiza District branch of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) were prevented from going ahead by the police, who came to the venue, harassed workers, denied them entrance to the hall and threatened to arrest them.
The ZCTU regional official present demanded that the police provide a written explanation for banning the event, which the senior police officer in charge refused to do.
ZCTU has experienced many such situations for a long time. People sent from the president’s office or the police themselves interrupt ZCTU activities, harass and disperse workers or they demand to see programmes or to sit in on the meetings.
Right to collective bargaining
The National Union of Metal and Allied Industries of Zimbabwe (NUMAIZ) protested workers’ rights violations at Chinese-owned AfrochineSmelting and the total lack of compliance with the laws and existing collective agreements. In the past year, Afrochine failed to pay wages in due time and proceeded to unilaterally terminate 33 workers without prior consultation with the union. Conciliation efforts at the National Employment Council of the ferroalloy industry – a social dialogue platform – failed as Afrochine representatives did not show up at a meeting on 22 September 2021.
Workers at Afrochine live in fear, with no job security, and are being humiliated and beaten up by supervisors on a daily basis. Any attempt at reporting abuses is punished by immediate dismissal.
Afrochine is a subsidiary of the world’s biggest stainless steel product manufacturer, Tsingshan Holding Group, which trades on the London Metals Exchange. Over 1,500 workers are employed at the ferrochrome plant, which is about 75 kilometres from Harare.