Thursday, January 25, 2007

Struggles in Printing Union

Serious internal squabbles have erupted in the Printing union. One faction is led by old Reflections members (a rank and file group of workers which successfully mobilized and took over the union from the old corrupt ZGWU leadership. The other side is a mixture of old ZGWU supporters, some who contested the 2004 Congress and lost and a few currently in the national
council by virtue of cooption .The latter are a bunch of right wingers intent on holding workers conditions and wages down while cavorting with printing industry bosses.
Reflections was formed around 2003 as a rank and file group to get rid of the old unaccountable ZGWU leadership which had presided over the union for over 15 years without having any elections to change leadership. In 2004 Reflections managed to push for a congress where they scooped most potions in the leadership save for a few which were retained by the old
leadership . After winning congress they embarked on a serious grass roots empowerment programme where they formed industrial structures organized in zones which had total control of the union . With this kind of operation the union became very strong and delivering .They managed to transform the entire industry wiwthin a short space , lifting wages from the least paid to the top paying industries in the country. In a space of only two years they organized two very successful industry wide strikes with the full backing of workers.
Squables began after their last strike, which left most union activists and most national council members victimised leading the strike ..That was a very unfortunate situation because could not be active anymore on the shopfloor ..To cover up for the vacuum the union had to create some extra executive posts and full time office positions to keep the expelled comrades whose experience the union could not afford to loose whilst co-opting other activists into positions. In short
the previous union leadership were turned into union bureaucrats without any powers to vote or implement decisions at the same time giving such powers to new comers who did not go through that rank and file activism
of Reflections.
Some remaining elements of the old leadership ousted by congress in 2004 successfully managed to take advantage of the situation and get the sympathy of the new leaders to purge out all progressive leaders from the union using their executive powers. High on target was the union Secretary General whom they crafted false allegations of serious misuse of funds and subsequently reported him to the police who, after investigations, found him not guilty. However they proceeded to unilaterally, without the mandate from the national council, fire him. But the GS as ordered and mandated by the national council members of three regions and the general membership refused to honor the expulsion and kept on reporting for work. Now they are seeking a peace order to stop him from reporting to office.
Late December last year the Harare region members called for a meeting where they had elections on the vacant positions in the National Council and mandated the Secretary general to move to all other regions and have similar elections aiming to hold an extra-ordinary congress early this year to immediately stop the regrouping of old right wing elements of the union now causing chaos. So far Harare has had its fine full council that has since petitioned the President of the union and his crew. It’s a very sad situation in the union now especially that it was a union which rebuilt out of struggles and had all the support from its members .
As we go to press the Secretary General is on a country wide campaign covering all regions preparing for an extra ordinary
Viva vashandi .
M Sambo

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