More than 40 trade union activists drawn from the ZCTU north-eastern region recently underwent a workshop aimed creating awareness on the importance of collective bargaining and pensions.  

The workshop which was conducted by the ZCTU’s research unit, the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ) sensitised workers on their role in influencing positive changes on social security through effective collective bargaining. It also highlighted the importance of sound pension systems at a time most pensioners are wallowing in poverty owing to meagre payouts which they are receiving from pension funds.

Participants were trained on the importance of pension by Dr Godfrey Kanyanze of LEDRIZ who emphasized on the need to start preparing for pension at an early stage of one’s profession rather than to wait till one is on the twilight period of his or her career.

“We have carried out this program throughout all the ZCTU’ six regional centers that is Chinhoyi, Mutare, Masvingo, Gweru, Bulawayo and Harare with the objective of informing the working class the importance of pension and the economic status of the nation,” Kanyenze told participants.

Collective bargaining and state of the economy were dealt with by the ZCTU North Eastern

Regional Officer Patience Jongwe and Dr Prosper Chitambara of LEDRIZ respectively.

Speaking on the sidelines of the workshop Northeastern Regional Chairperson Jokonia Mawopa encouraged participants to continue participating in ZCTU organized activities.

“I urge you ZCTU activists to participate all activities where we discuss such issues that relate to our welfre as workers. We have Police Brutality Day which as a Region we have agreed that it will be commemorated on the 16th of September,” Mawopa said.

Zimbabwe has a national pension scheme that supports its senior citizens where workers contribute until they reach retirement age. However, the National Social Security Authority pension scheme payouts are very virtually worthless. According to Mywage.org, an organisation that compiles and compares labour market information, pensions in Zimbabwe are tiny, ranging from $10 to $100 per month.

“In February 2009, following the switch to multi-currencies, pension and life funds started converting policies to US dollars. The prices arbitrarily reduced the balance on accounts to values less than $100, regardless of how long each policy had run,” says Mywage’s report on Zimbabwe.

Monthly pension payouts are so low as to be worthless, they cannot cover living expenses and it has become a daily struggle for pensioners to access basic goods and services.

Just recently pensioners in Bulawayo protested at the NSSA offices demanding that their pensions be paid in United States dollars and authorities had to call in the police to disperse the protesters.

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