Education International
Education International

EI joins protest against anti-union repression in Zimbabwe

published 22 September 2006 updated 22 September 2006

In a strongly-worded letter to the President Robert G. Mugabe, EI demands that the Zimbabwean government respect the trade union right of all workers.

The letter is the result of the latest act of brutality against trade unionists during their protest marches earlier this month.

On 13 September, about 250 trade unionists and other civilians, including approximately 100 women and several infants, were arrested nationwide following a peaceful protest calling for decent wages, action on Zimbabwe’s 1000 per cent inflation rate and better access to life-saving anti-viral drugs for AIDS sufferers.

Among those arrested were members of the Zimbabwean Council of Trade Unions (ZCTU), more than a dozen of whom have been tortured and injured following their arrest that day. The victims include Wellington Chibebe, General Secretary, Lovemore Matombo, President, and Lucia Matibenga, First Vice President of ZCTU. Chibebe's arm was broken and both he and Matombo were beaten, sustaining cranial and facial bruising and other head injuries. Matibenga and other prisoners have also reported being beaten on the soles of their feet, having their heads bashed against prison walls and being stamped and kicked in the head.

Further to the Urgent Action Appeal launched by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) on 14 September, the international trade union movement has been informed that the 30 ZCTU activists arrested in Harare on 13 September were taken to court on the evening of the 15 September. They were all released on bail of 20,000 Zimbabwe dollars, and are due to appear in court on 3 October on public order charges.

The ICFTU is calling for an international day of action on Friday 22 September to protest against the anti-union repression in Zimbabwe. EI, together with the other Global Union Federations joins the call of the ICFTU on all trade unions around the world to take part in the International Day of Action by organising protests at Zimbabwean embassies and other activities to highlight violation of workers’ right by the regime. A group of international trade unionists currently meeting in South Africa for the Council of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) congress will visit Zimbabwe on 22 September.

For more information, please click on the links below.

The following is EI's letter to President Mugabe (in English) dated 20 September 2006:


His Excellency Mr. Robert G. Mugabe

President of Zimbabwe




Fax: +

Brussels, 20 September 2006

Mr President,

Education International (EI), the global union federation of teachers, which represents over 29 million members in 166 countries, is deeply concerned by the brutal repression of trade union activists during protest marches in Harare on 12-13 September 2006.

Education International received from the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) very detailed information about the severity of the injuries caused to top leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).

Education International believes that this latest act of brutality against trade unionists illustrates the extent to which your Government holds in contempt the trade union rights enshrined in internationally recognised labour standards.

Education International is also concerned about the legal action brought against the 30 ZCTU activists in connection with the marches. Education International believes that no trade unionist should be arrested or charged for legitimate trade union activities.

Education International therefore joins with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions to demand that all charges be dropped against the trade unionists and that in future, the right of workers’ organisations to exercise their activities and to hold meetings and public protests relating to their conditions of work and economic and social policy be respected.

In June 2006, the Committee on the Application of Standards of the International Labour Organisation emphasised that the exercise of trade union rights was intrinsically linked to the assurance of full guarantees of basic civil liberties, including the right to express opinions freely, and to hold assemblies and public meetings.

Education International and its affiliates worldwide will continue to monitor the trade union environment in Zimbabwe.

Sincerely yours,

Fred van Leeuwen

General Secretary




EI Regional Office Lomé