International Day - International Workers' Day 1st May 2024


[1st May 2024]

Ensuring safety and health at work in a changing climate

The 1st May is International Labour Day.  In Zimbabwe it is a public holiday known as Workers Day.  Veritas joins the world in commemorating the day under this year’s theme:

Ensuring safety and health at work in a changing climate.”

Over the past year the economy has remained depressed and the formal sector has haemorrhaged jobs.  The economy continues to informalise and the few big employers – in the mining and agricultural sector – have sought profits at the expense of workers.  Many employers are not paying a living wage nor do they provide medical aid to their employees, leaving them exposed to the vagaries of the economic meltdown.

The International Labour Organisation in its statement for this year’s Labour Day said:

“As climate change intensifies, workers around the globe find themselves at an increased risk of exposure to hazards such as excessive heatultraviolet radiationextreme weather eventsair pollutionvector-borne diseases and agrochemicals.”

It further noted that numerous health conditions in workers have been linked to climate change, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory illnesses, kidney dysfunction and mental health conditions.  Add to this it is estimated that “over 870 million workers in agriculture who are likely to be exposed to pesticides, with more than 300,000 deaths attributed to pesticide poisoning annually.”  

There is also a rush to extract chemicals necessary to transition to green energy, resulting in the uncontrolled used of chemicals in their extraction, especially in Africa. There have also been reports in Zimbabwe of mercury leakages from its unregulated use especially  in artisanal mining. 

In the light of all this we urge the government of Zimbabwe to:

·      Ensure that employers comply with laws regulating working conditions, in particular laws requiring the provision of protective clothing

·      Introduce and enforce a minimum wage

·      Create a National Health Insurance scheme giving all workers access to health facilities

·      Re-evaluate the use of chemicals in the mining and agriculture sectors, and ban those that are most dangerous to the health of workers.

We wish all workers everywhere a restful Labour Day or Workers Day.

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