Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) joins the world in commemorating World Day for Decent Work (WDDW) on the 7th of October.
This year’s commemoration come at a time when hundreds of millions of lives and jobs have been lost worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of these being those in the least paid sectors such as the cleaning industry, transport sector and the construction industry.
Owing to lockdown restrictions, women were left with the additional burden of having to supervise home schooling as well as being the primary caregiver in homes without regard to their own physical and mental wellbeing. As is the case with the cleaning industry and food processing and distribution, they were also in the majority and severely affected as they lost productive hours with no compensation.
The COVID-19 pandemic shown a light on the gross inequalities amongst the working class of the world as there was little to no difference between the fate of those involved in menial jobs be it in the first or third world, as they both had no access to healthcare nor more crucially social protection.
In Zimbabwe, like in many other countries, social protection was provided for through inadequate, knee jerk interventions that had no safeguards against abuse, hence it came as no surprise that the Office of the Auditor General revealed in Parliament on the 2nd of August that there had been gross abuses of the cushioning fund facility administered through one of the mobile money transfer agencies.
WDDW calls upon the world to reflect on the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure equitable, affordable health care, vaccine distribution and enactment of proper social protection schemes that ensure that the vulnerable are taken care of at all times. It is also an indictment on the entire world that even within the most advanced economies there are debates on fair minimum wage and equal pay.
VISET on its part will push to ensure that their stake as part of the Informal Economy now representing the major employer is well represented at forums such as the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) in order to push for social protection, fair wages and health care provision amongst other many pressing needs for the sector.