The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) championed the democratisation struggle in Zimbabwe after the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme that not only saw deepening poverty by working people but increased repression by the state. Going beyond the ‘core responsibility’ of bargaining for better working conditions at the workplace to broader issues of social justice, human rights and democracy by ZCTU was neither new nor unique to Zimbabwe. In South Africa COSATU fought against apartheid and in Zambia the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions ushered in a multiparty dispensation respectively. However, the prolonged, if not aborted, transition in Zimbabwe coupled with a ‘war of attrition’ by the ruling elite have seriously weakened the labour movement into near oblivion. Massive unemployment and worsening poverty depleted the ranks of organised labour. Ironically the ZCTU backed opposition MDC party advocated for neoliberal economic policies and supported targeted economic sanctions that proved detrimental to the working classes’ interests. Since the ZCTU has been consigned to the fringes within the social movement pushing for transformation, this contribution, therefore explores options for trade union revitalization under conditions of an uncertain future in a fast-changing environment of neo-liberal globalisation.


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pp. 113-128
Launched on MUSE
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