INTERNATIONAL WORKERS DAY
[1st May 2023]
May Day Statement
Time to Prioritize Social Justice
May 1 each year is the International Workers Day. It is a day that has been commemorated since 1946, a year after the Second World War that ended in 1945. The International Labour Organisation [ILO], a United Nations affiliate, in its statement this year chronicled the birth of the organisation and its founding principle. It said:
“First and foremost, our policies and actions must be human-centred, to allow people to pursue both their material well-being and their spiritual development in conditions of freedom and dignity, economic security and equal opportunity. This approach is not new, it was set out and agreed in the aftermath of World War Two, when the ILO’s international membership signed the 1944 Declaration of Philadelphia.”
ILO Director-General Gilbert F. Houngbo called for a Global Coalition for Social Justice and a reshaping of economic, social and environmental policies to create a more stable and equitable future.
It is imperative to define what social justice is. Social justice is defined as justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.
The ZCTU Theme
While the ILO had the theme of Social Justice this year, Zimbabwe’s labour body, the Zimbabwe Council of Trade Unions [ZCTU] held the commemorations under the theme:
“Workers demand an inclusive Zimbabwe free from poverty, corruption and oppression.”
It is important that ILO from a global perspective correctly observed that, “globally, real wages have fallen, poverty is rising, inequality seems more entrenched than ever.”
It emphasised that:
“This means focusing on inequality, poverty alleviation and core social protection. The most effective way to do this is by providing quality jobs so that people can support themselves and build their own futures – ‘Decent Work for All’, as Sustainable Development Goal 8 terms it.
This is a reality in Zimbabwe, where millions of workers do not earn enough to feed, clothe, pay rentals, education and health for their families. The majority of workers in Zimbabwe can now be easily called the “working poor”.
It is in this perspective that Veritas joins hands with labour in Zimbabwe in its call for workers demanding an inclusive Zimbabwe free from poverty, corruption and oppression. These are matters that are immediate and need urgent attention.
Many workers across Zimbabwe have measly wages and salaries, some go for months without getting their remuneration or work in dangerous environments. This is more pervasive in the mining sector that is now controlled by companies owned by the rich elite who are only interested in extracting resources and care less about the environment or labour rights.
To that end, Veritas calls on the government to own up to its signature on international labour treaties that call for safe working environments, decent wages, workers’ right to withdraw labour, to have decent housing and to have access to education and universal healthcare.