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Zimbabweans Struggle to Survive as Economic Freefall Continues

Workers of the National Railways of Zimbabwe recently staged peaceful protests in Zimbabwe's second largest city, Bulawayo.

The wheels are slowly coming off in Zimbabwe as all economic indicators are headed south.

Most companies in both the private and public sectors have been hit by crippling strikes as they fail to pay employees and provide benefits, among other perks.

Industrial action is now the order of the day at diamond mining firms such as Anjin Investments and Mbada Diamonds with the National Railways of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Steel Limited and local authorities like Mutare, Marondera, Gwanda, Gweru and Harare also being affected.

The construction industry has been forced to downsize operations while the hotel and catering and banking sectors have had their membership base eroded by retrenchments and increased casualization of labor due to an unfavorable macro-economic environment.

The textile industry succumbed to the impact of what analysts say is the retrogressive influx of Chinese goods on the market.

The liquidation of companies and retrenchments are now a daily occurrence.

Workers are falling into the predicament of continued and sustained erosion of their standard of living.

Collective bargaining has become strained resulting in an increase in salary negotiation deadlocks, which have to be resolved through arbitration.

To talk about arbitration and the rights of workers, VOA’s Blessing Zulu turned to prominent labor lawyer Rodgers Matsikidze who admits the labor situation is deteriorating in the country.

Despite its wealth of natural resources that can support job creation and increased exports, Zimbabwe faces huge economic and social barriers. Unemployment is hovering above 80 percent though the government insists the figure is inflated, preferring to settle for 11 percent.

Zimbabwe’s businesses lack access to finance and an inadequate infrastructure prevents the effective movement of goods.

Companies operating below 30 percent have gone for years now without paying workers.

The government blames the country’s woes on sanctions imposed by the European Union, the United States, New Zealand, Canada and Australia in 2002 for alleged vote rigging and rights abuses.