- Responding to the successful stayaway organised by the opposition, the Zimbabwean government has banned public sector workers from engaging in strike action. The opposition sees the ban as "a clear sign of weakness," and trade unions are condemning the move as "a desperate measure."
The Zimbabwean government has extended its ban on strikes by public sector workers to those in pharmacies and veterinary services. They join workers in hospitals, clinics, fire brigades, electricity, telecommunications, civil aviation, broadcasting, public transport and state railway services, who were already banned from striking.
Collin Gwiyo, Deputy Secretary-General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) strongly protested the government decision. "It is a desperate measure which will not change anything, because if workers feel that their grievances are not being addressed, they will always turn to the streets, despite the laws, says Mr Gwiyo.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) - the strongest union in Southern Africa - today joined ZCTU in condemning the strike ban in Zimbabwe. COSATU spokesman Patrick Craven agreed with ZCTU the ban was a "desperate measure".
- South African trade unionists will continue to give full support to their Zimbabwe trade union comrades in defending their members' civil rights, of which the right to strike is one of the most basic, said Mr Craven.
Also Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) yesterday strongly protested the ban imposed by "the illegitimate Mugabe regime". According to MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi, the ban "underlines once again the success of the recent 2-6 June stayaway which marked a significant step forward in the peaceful struggle to restore democratic legitimacy to Zimbabwe."
- The scale of the Mugabe regime's violent and repressive response to the stayaway is a testament to the impact that the stayaway has had, added Mr Nyathi. "The regime has clearly been weakened by its realisation that it has no popular support."
The MDC spokesman again reminded Zimbabweans about the arrest and ongoing detention of MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai on another treason charge, and the arrest of over 800 MDC supporters for engaging in peaceful acts of protest.
All this offered "a clear insight into the increasing level of nervousness that is now permeating a regime conscious that its time is running out, said Mr Nyathi. "Banning core public sector workers from engaging in strike action is yet another example of this nervousness."
- If the regime believes that banning people from exercising their basic democratic rights will deter future stay always it should think again, said Mr Nyathi. "Violence and repression do not weaken people's desire for democratic change. Violence and repression do not address an individual's social and economic grievances."
Hundreds of thousands of workers, both private and public sector, had heeded the MDC's call to stay away from work between 2-6 June, marking the largest mass action against the regime of President Robert Mugabe so far. Also the ZCTU had supported the stayaways.
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