In his message to mark Workers’ Day, which is celebrated on 1 May every year, Mnangagwa said there is therefore need for a paradigm shift as worker welfare has become paramount and urgent.
Here are six things he has suggested for the way forward:
FIRST, we must ensure our workplaces meet WHO public health standards. No sector or sub-sector must be exempt from this requirement which must be enforced both in the interest of workers, and that of greater society. Going forward, public heath yardstick will be foremost in the way we organise our business, all business premises and work stations.
SECOND, we must ensure proper personal protection equipment and facilities at all workstations. Again, this must be in line with WHO standards which our health inspectors must enforce vigorously. The health inspector shall be a key persona in industrial relations, and at all places of work which must be repurposed towards public health exigencies and goals.
THIRD, we must include in the workman and woman package issues of healthcare giving. That makes the issue of disease and virus containment and cure much more than a private, family affair. It is as much an issue for the employee as it is for employer and Government. Our issue together! All our health facilities must match the demand for health services by our nation, both by way of numbers and by way of capabilities. Again this puts the worker at the centre.
FOURTH, a well-housed workforce is a bulwark against epidemics and pandemics. Good, well-spaced residential housing schemes are the best panacea against diseases. In saying this, I am not shooting down high-rise residential projects; rather, I am emphasising that such housing schemes should not translate into untidy, overcrowded and unhygienic settlements devoid of proper public spaces, adequate amenities and recreational spaces and facilities.
FIFTH, delivery of public utilities and services in both urban and rural areas must match up and meet public health standards. To that end, our planned urban renewal programmes I mooted in Mbare, and subsequently launched in Mutare’s Sakubva high-density suburb, should henceforth receive attention and matching resources. They are, after all, habitats of our workforce, which deserve nothing short of liveable conditions which approximate the wealth they create for our society. A broad, multifaceted, all-encompassing social programme must be put on the table, with the private sector involvement being enlisted and encouraged through various incentives. Above all, our municipalities and rural authorities must rise to the occasion, so we make our built-up environments liveable.
SIXTH AND LAST, from a consolidation of all of the above, every employer, in whatever sector of our economy, must and should think beyond the weekly or monthly wage. Over the years, we have realised how easily erodible wages are, especially in times of economic shocks, destabilisations and instability. Now we have this new, dreadful factor of a global viral pandemic. Clearly, the years ahead show all these as the conditioning norm for global businesses, in which case we are best advised to cushion the worker through a more resilient, shock-proof system of reward and resilience. The bottom-line is that the worker must have food, shelter, and must be able to afford health services, while being able to send his/her children to school. This, dear compatriots, must be the new thrust and ethic for us all, whatever sector we play in.