||Issue No. 128||15 March 2002|
Why I'm Marching
Interview: The Wedge Buster
History: Fighting for Peace
Unions: Rattling the Gates
International: Facing Retribution
Technology: How Korean Workers Used The Web
Industrial: Working Futures
Review: Rumble, Young Man, Rumble
Satire: GG Survival Doomed: Fox-Lew In Charge Of Rescue Bid
The Locker Room
Week in Review
The peak trade union body in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Unions (ZCTU), was forced to abandon a meeting this week after Robert Mugabe's police threatened to smash up the meeting with armed riot police.
There are real fears for the leadership of the union movement who have provided most of the organising muscle for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai is a former ZCTU leader.
Shortly after Robert Mugabe declared himself re-elected this week a ZCTU spokesman told officials at the Brussels-based International Confederation of Free Trades Unions that, "at the moment we are okay, but everybody here is afraid of what will happen now."
The ZCTU had called the meeting to analyse the tainted weekend presidential election and consider the possibility of protesting the voting procedures by organizing a wave of strikes.
Late last night a member of the ZCTU executive contacted the ICFTU to inform them of the police threats.
" Everybody is terrified," a spokesperson for the ZCTU informed the ICFTU after the trade union meeting - scheduled for 3pm Thursday - was banned by the local police force.
In the hours before the meeting, the ZCTU was issued with a notice to the effect that police representatives would be present to monitor the proceedings.
When the ZCTU leadership refused, the police warned that if the meeting went ahead behind closed doors, it risked being broken up by armed riot forces.
Earlier this week the ICFTU General Secretary Guy Ryder wrote to the ILO's Director General Juan Somavia, appealing for an assurance of the safety of trade unionists in Zimbabwe, "in response to widespread and deep fears expressed for their safety as well as for victimisation while discharging their duties."
After hearing of the police threats against the ZCTU on Thursday the ICFTU's Guy Ryder again expressed his grave concern at the continually deteriorating situation.
"The prevention of a trade union meeting is a blatant violation of the ILO conventions, the tyranny of the Zimbabwean regime is unacceptable," Guy Ryder said.
" The harassment and intimidation that marred the electoral campaign is showing no signs of abating, the international community must take decisive action immediately."
The ICFTU will continue to closely monitor the situation and will raise the issue with the ILO Director General, Juan Somavia, if the Zimbabwean government continues to refuse trade unions the freedom to assemble and discuss matter of concern to workers.
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