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Thursday, June 1, 2023

ZCTU challenges NSSA to prioritize right to safe working environment

Perpetua Murungweni

Labour movement Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has called upon National Social Security Authority NSSA to prioritize the right to a safe working environment as it is the custodian of occupational safety and health at work places in the country.
Speaking during the World Day for Safety at work commemorations held at Masvingo Civic Centre, ZCTU president Florence Taruvinga expressed concerns over the continued intimidation of employees in workplaces by their employers and called upon NSSA to prioritize the right to safety as well as health of workers.
“The continued injuries that are happening at workplaces are not because workers are not following procedures, but it’s because of the serious intimidation of workers to speak out on issues that affect them.
“Employers are not playing their role of providing and maintaining a safe and healthy environment and it becomes inevitable for workers to protect themselves from injuries and maintain a safe working environment as we have employees that are using safety clothing that they were given five years ago,” said Taruvinga.
She said workers suffer at the workplace due to serious safety deficits at companies around the country singling out Chinese owned companies as biggest perpetrators.
“There are serious safety deficits in these Chinese-owned companies and we are calling for NSSA to protect the citizens and workers in Zimbabwe because the Chinese have loosely become the owners of this country and doing what they want to the environment and workers,” said Taruvinga.
She said ZCTU recognizes statutes that are in Zimbabwe, follow and act accordingly but the Chinese investors disregard the statutes and are getting away with it.
She vowed that if they (Chinese) continue doing the same, the labour organization is compelled to act.
“ZCTU is an organized labour organization that recognizes the statutes that are in Zimbabwe and as citizens of the country. We follow and act accordingly to what governs us and if Chinese investors continue to disregard the statutes particularly the labour act and workers’ rights in Zimbabwe and continue to loosely do it without anyone taking them to task, we will act accordingly. I urge you all to put our hands together to stop this.
“While we all understand and totally agree that accidents can happen anytime anywhere, it is still our responsibility as workers and employers to ensure that we take steps to reduce risks of accidents and maintain a safe working environment,” said Taruvinga.
Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) General Secretary Kenius Shamuyarira also urged NSSA to conduct safety inspections at all work places by visiting workers from across the nation who will speak on these issues.
“NSSA should inspect safety conditions and safeguard health of employees at all work places, and this can be done by visiting or holding events like these at work places and being on the ground where the issues raised are found. There are a lot of workers and employers who really speak to these issues and by doing that, you will be assisting the mantra of seeking to achieve the upper middle income society by 2030 for all Zimbabweans,” said Shamuyarira.
Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare Lovemore Matuke also urged employers to adhere to the Labour Act and ensure a healthy and safe environment for its workers and failure to do so will attract a stiff penalty.
“Today government is sending a strong warning to all those who do not adhere to issues related to safety and health an act of commissions and omissions that comprises the safety and health of workers by stakeholders will certainly attract stiff penalties by the State in accordance with the provisions of the laws of Zimbabwe,” said Matuke.
NSSA Board chairperson Merjury Chinyemba said through commemorations, the organization seeks to encourage, support and boost the need to continuously create safe and healthy culture.
“Through the World Day for Safety and Health at work commemorations the NSSA seeks to encourage support and boost the need to continuously create safety and healthy culture, thereby reducing work-related accidents injuries and deaths,” said Chinyemba.

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