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ZCTU National Labour Protest - Sept 13, 2006 - Index of articles
union protests over police's strong-arm tactics
September 26, 2006
HARARE - The Swedish
Confederation of Professional Employees (SCPE) has written to President
Robert Mugabe protesting the Zimbabwe Republic Police's strong-arm
tactics in dealing with labour leaders behind this month's anti-government
employees' federation becomes the latest international organisation
to voice its concern over the heavy-handed way in which police and
other security agents stifled the September
13 protests by the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).
Similar protests have
come from the European Union, Nigerian Labour Congress, Congress
of South African Trade Unions, Botswana Council for Non Governmental
Organisations, the United States and Britain, among others.
In a letter dated 15
September 2006, the Swedish worker body accused the Zimbabwean authorities
of using heavy-handed tactics to break up the ZCTU-organised protests
and of politicising "what was a purely a trade union event".
Routes planned for use
by the ZCTU marchers on 13 September were blocked in many cities,
including in Harare, where ruling ZANU PF militia wearing party
regalia moved from point to point, intimidating workers.
"Indeed, and as
it had widely announced beforehand, the ZCTU was only demonstrating
against the country's inflation rate of 1 000 percent - by all available
accounts the highest in the world - and in demand of higher incomes,
lower taxes and better access to antiretroviral drugs needed to
fight HIV/AIDS," the SCPE's letter to Mugabe reads in part.
The Swedish confederation
said it was preparing to lodge a formal complaint to the International
Labour Organisation (ILO) against the Harare authorities for violating
ILO conventions recognising the right of workers to organise and
engage in collective bargaining for better pay and working conditions.
The SCPE also said it
was particularly incensed at the brutal beatings of the ZCTU top
leadership while in police custody.
The ZCTU leaders
serious injuries including broken ribs, arms and legs after
they were assaulted and tortured by the police who also kept them
locked up in cells for several hours denying them access to medical
Zimbabwe police authorities
say they will investigate the assault of the ZCTU officials and
charge officers found to have beaten up or tortured the union leaders.
But police commanders have in the past never followed through similar
promises to bring to book officers accused of torturing civilians.
President Mugabe has,
meanwhile, backed the police's strong-arm tactics to crush the ZCTU
Addressing staff at the
Zimbabwean embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Mugabe said the police were
right in dealing sternly with the ZCTU leaders during their demonstration
"because the trade unionists want to become a law unto themselves".
He said the protest organisers
got the treatment they deserved for breaking the tough government
security laws prohibiting Zimbabweans from staging public protests
without permission from the police.
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