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"Stop harassment of trade unions," EI tells the Zimbabwe goverment

EI issued a message to the Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe on 13 October, urging his government to stop harassing trade union leaders and members. EI was refering to the police intervention of World Teachers' Day celebration on 6 October by the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ).

EI received reports that the police surrounded the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions' (ZCTU) Masvingo headquarters where PTUZ intended to celebrate World Teachers' Day on Friday 6 October from 10am to 2pm. The police cordoned the streets leading to the trade union premises from the night before and chased away visitors. Seven members of the PTUZ National Board – Takavafira Zhou, Oswald Madziva, Raymond Majongwe, MacDonald Mangauzani, Janet Munakamwe, Harrison Mudzuri and Brightmore Mbanjwa – were held in the Central Police Station of Masvingo from 9.45am to 2.25pm. They were questioned individually and lawyers were not allowed in. Because the PTUZ leadership was held for the entire time planned for the celebration, it could not occur.

EI reminds the Zimbabwean government that the police action is in conflict with Convention 87 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which the country ratified in 2003.

Below is the content of EI's letter in English.

----------------------------

His Excellency Mr. Robert G. Mugabe

President of Zimbabwe

Causeway

Harare

Zimbabwe

Brussels, 13 October 2006

Your Excellency,

Education International, the global union federation of teachers, which represents over 30 million members in 162 countries, is concerned by the disruption by security forces of the World Teachers' Day function planned by the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe on 6 October 2006 in Masvingo.

Education International received reports indicating that police surrounded the ZCTU Masvingo headquarters where PTUZ intended to celebrate World Teachers' Day on Friday 6 October from 10am to 2pm. Police cordoned the streets leading to the trade union premises from the night before and chased away visitors.

Seven members of the PTUZ National Board – Takavafira Zhou, Oswald Madziva, Raymond Majongwe, MacDonald Mangauzani, Janet Munakamwe, Harrison Mudzuri and Brightmore Mbanjwa – were held in the Central Police Station of Masvingo from 9.45am to 2.25pm. They were questioned individually and lawyers were not allowed in. Because the PTUZ leadership was held for the entire time planned for the celebration, it could not occur.

World Teachers' Day is celebrated worldwide to acknowledge the teaching profession and celebrate the key role played by teachers everywhere in nurturing the next generation and building democratic societies. All governments are invited by UNESCO and by Education International to facilitate the celebration of World Teachers' Day.

It is regrettable that the PTUZ function was disrupted. As you are aware, Article 3 of the International Labour Convention 87, ratified by Zimbabwe in 2003, states that "workers' and employers' organizations shall have the right to [...] organize their activities and to formulate their programmes. [...] The public authorities shall refrain from any interference which would restrict this right or impede the lawful exercise thereof."

Education International knows that article 24 (5) of POSA allows public gatherings for bona fide members and trade union purposes without prior notification.

This World Teachers' Day function was organised for teachers, hence for PTUZ members and is thus a bona fide trade union activity.

Education International was also informed that fortunately World Teachers' Day was successfully celebrated by the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (ZIMTA). Education International urges your Government to refrain from any act of interference in the activities of teachers' unions, such as police intervention in rallies and meetings, intimidation and harassment of trade union leaders and members.

Sincerely yours,

Fred van Leeuwen

General Secretary

Copies to:

ZIMTA

ZESSCWU

PSI

ICFTU

ILO

UNESCO

Zimbabwe embassies in Brussels – fax: 02.762.96.05

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