THE International Labour Organisation (ILO) says a total 100 000 Zimbabweans lost their jobs in the first quarter 2023 alone with the majority of those remaining in employment experiencing working poverty.
Speaking to workers gathered at Dzivarasekwa Stadium to commemorate the 2023 Workers Day Monday, ILO Country Office for Zimbabwe and Namibia, Officer In Charge, Annamarie Kiaga decried rising unemployment and poor salaries paid to workers.
“Unemployment remains relatively high, and data indicates a lot of discouragement in the labour force as many are no longer looking for employment.
“Women and youth are disproportionately affected by overlapping crises, by unemployment, and by socio-economic insecurity, and face many barriers in accessing decent work.
“Informality remains significantly high, and many people are in working poverty as they earn below an equivalent of USD100.00 per month. Many are still losing jobs, with latest statistics indicating that over 100,000 people were retrenched in the 1st Quarter of 2023,” she said.
The ILO senior official called for the unleashing of greater investments in decent jobs, particularly in the green, digital and care economy, underscoring that such can only be realised through increased, coordinated, and coherent action.
She said harnessing such opportunities s requires working together to build a new, and inclusive, social contract that ensures that every Zimbabwean benefits from the progress and prosperity of the country.
“We need to create a momentum to leave no-one behind, and to ensure that social justice through decent work is prioritized in national policymaking and programmes, in development cooperation, and in financial, trade, and investment promotion and agreements.
“Building a new social contract requires a commitment to inclusive and broad social dialogue.
“Social dialogue helps ensure that our collective efforts through policies and programmes have broad acceptance and ownership. For example, wage negotiations that are bipartite or tripartite are far more effective in protecting the purchasing power of the most vulnerable in these inflationary conditions,” said Kiaga.
Her calls for social dialogue comes at a time when the country’s tripartite forces, Labour, Business and Workers have failed to arrive at any meaningful conclusion as suspicions bordered on political affiliation lines continue to dog the process.
“Effective social dialogue, implemented in good faith, can also move us towards finalising critical labour law reforms; the institutionalisation of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF), and creating more and better jobs.
“These are areas in which, as tripartite partners in Zimbabwe, you have mutual and shared interests,” she said.
She underscored that such processes coupled with technical assistance from partners like the ILO can yield quick wins for Zimbabwe.
“The ILO welcomes the opportunity to work with the Government of Zimbabwe, Worker Organisations, including the ZCTU, Employers bodies and all stakeholders to promote social justice through Decent Work.
“This also includes the contribution to the implementation of the objectives of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, as articulated in the National Development Strategy 1, the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, and the Decent Work Country Programme,” added Kiaga.