Zimbabwe

Capital: Harare
Population: 15.24m. (2014 est.)

Zimbabwe ratified ILO Convention No. 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, 1948) in 2003 and ratified Convention No. 98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining, 1949) in 1998.

During the 1990s trade union rights became increasingly heavily restricted, leading to difficult relations between the national trade union centre ZCTU and the Mugabe government. Into the 2000s dozens of ZCTU members and leaders were arrested at mass rallies in the capital, while kidnappings, beatings and lootings were increasingly used against union activists. The introduction of the 'POSA' legal framework reqstricted public union meetings and imposed fines and prison terms for supposed 'public order' violations. ZCTU-government relations improved by the mid-2010s, with the MDC in a power sharing role. In 2018, following the military coup (and subsequent elections), renewed anti-union attacks have been reported against the ZCTU. In August 2018 six people were killed when a demonstration was violently repressed, and shots were fired at the ZCTU offices. In October the ZCTU's general secretary and president were arrested, along with more than 30 trade unionists.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) was founded after independence in 1981. During the 1990s the ZCTU was a frequent critic of the Mugabe government, and its members and officials were the victims of regular arrests, harassment by state officials, and violent repression of trade union rallies. In 1996 the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) was launched, it was regarded as a vehicle for ZANU-PF, and it was accused of violent take-overs of ZCTU-organised workplaces. ZFTU's claimed membership is high, but no reliable data or clear information is published. In 2007, the ITUC reported that the ZFTU promoted splinter unions, and at the 2011 Congress, seven unions dissaffiliated from the ZCTU. More recently the Trade Union Congress of Zimbabwe was established, which is a rival centre, but which has some limited cooperation with the ZCTU. Over the past decade or more, ZCTU has suffered significant losses from factionalism and competion from would-be rival centres, but it remains the only affiliate to the ITUC. Some ZFTU affiliates are linked with WFTU's sectoral Trade Union Internationals.

Full details of the country's political history, the development of trade unionism, and contact and affiliation details for all national trade union centres can be found in ICTUR's in-depth global reference book: Trade Unions of the World.

Link to reportFull country profile: Zimbabwe, from Trade Unions of the World (2016)

Link to letterIntervention letter: arrest of trade union leaders (2018)

Link to letterIntervention letter: repression and killing of demonstrators (2018)

Link to report

Journal article:' He who pays the piper calls the tune?
The IMF’s policies in Zimbabwe', Zakeyo Mtimtema (2017)

The International Centre for Trade Union Rights

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based in London, promoting international trade
union rights through research and advocacy services.
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