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Solidarity with printing workers strike
International Socialist Organisation (ISO)
July 22, 2005

Printing workers led by the Zimbabwe Graphical Workers Union (ZGWU) are embarking on a nationwide strike this coming Monday 25/07/05. The workers are putting forward the following demands:

  1. 210% wage increment
  2. 1.5 million housing allowance and
  3. 300 000 transport allowance

The printing bosses have refused to meet the workers demands saying they can only award a 40% wage increment. An offer that has been totally rejected by the workers. The printing minimum wage is currently at 1.5 million and the workers seek to have this raised to about 4.5 million. Life has become totally unbearable for workers with the current peanuts they are earning. Prices of basic commodities are going up everyday, transport fares have more than trebled in the past two months, rentals have gone up to a million per room but wages have remained stagnant. Thus the workers have every reason to be striking. The profit the bosses are making is a result of the sweat of these poor workers and workers have a right to demand a living wage.

There is massive support for the strike amongst workers. In a ballot conducted by the union on 28, 29 and 30 June, 98% of the workers supported the strike. The bosses have been trying to use every trick in the book to scuttle the strike. After the ballot the bosses sought to have the strike declared illegal. This failed, the matter was referred to conciliation and a certificate of no settlement was issued paving way for the workers to proceed with the strike. Now the bosses have applied to the labour court to have the matter referred to arbitration but the workers have resolved to go ahead with the strike regardless of all these machinations. Mobilization has already reached an advanced stage with zonal planning meetings taking place in all the zones in which the union is organized.

The ISO stands in full solidarity with the printing workers in this struggle. Our history of fighting alongside printing workers shows that victory can only come through organized struggle. From the time we organized with rank and file groups culminating in the overthrowing of the old passive union bureaucracy that had gone for over fifteen years without organizing a congress to the heroic struggles led by the vibrant new leadership last year, we are convinced that victory is possible through united workers struggle. Through struggle printing workers have been able to raise the printing minimum wage from one of the lowest to one of the highest and are now setting the pace for other industries. Last year the bosses came to the table offering 0% increment but the workers were able to win a 140% increment after a militant strike that saw workers picketing and locking bosses out.

We call upon workers in other unions to support this action, including the demonstrations ad pickets organized by the printers and to put pressure on their own unions and the ZCTU to call for a living wage nationwide general strike.

Forward with the printing workers strike! Victory is possible through Struggle!

Messages of solidarity can be sent to: ZGWU
Tel: +263-4-775 627; Fax: +263-4-775727

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