Zimbabwe yesterday joined the rest of the world in commemorating Workers Day on the back of a very difficult year due to the outbreak of Covid-19.
It’s been over a year since the country recorded its first Covid-19 cases and was forced into various forms of lockdowns to contain the pandemic.
The impact on the economy has been severe with a contraction in gross domestic product of 10% in 2020.
Some companies were unable to reopen after the forced shutdowns to control the spread of Covid-19 and this means that more workers lost their jobs.
More tragically, some workers were lost to the pandemic that had claimed 1 567 people as of April 30 with a total of 38 257 infections.
It is imperative for employers and the government to ensure that all workers are protected against the coronavirus going forward with adequate personal protective equipment and safe working environments.
There must also be a deliberate push for workers, especially those at risk of contracting the coronavirus at their workplaces, to be vaccinated as soon as possible.
In that regard more should be done to dispel myths and counter disinformation around Covid-19 vaccines in order to encourage more workers to get vaccinated along with their families.
The loss of jobs is another area that needs deliberate strategies to encourage innovative ways to help those that are out of employment to find alternative sources of income.
Covid-19 has left many families vulnerable because their sources of income either dried up or became less productive because of the lockdowns.
The government’s safety nets did not go far enough because the funds that were set aside were a drop in the ocean.
A number of Zimbabweans also rely on the informal sector for survival and this is where the majority of jobs are at the moment.
A government intervention that could have a more far reaching impact would entail ensuring the survival of the informal sector.
A fund could be set aside to help small to medium scale enterprises to retool and build better in the post Covid-19 era to save jobs and create more employment.
Those that still have jobs also need government protection to ensure they are paid decent salaries for the services they continue to render.
Some unscrupulous employers are hiding behind the Covid-19 pandemic to pay workers slave wages and that is unacceptable.
It is the duty of the government to ensure that workers work in humane conditions and that their rights are guaranteed.