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Giving Farm Workers a Voice

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  • By "looking at the plight of farm workers," the union is helping to build productivity on the farm and to build a strong agricultural sector-one that will be needed more than ever as Zimbabwe struggles to rebuild and restore democracy.
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  • Cross posted from Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet.
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Bernard Pollack, Working Life

Gertrude Hambira doesn't look like someone who gets arrested regularly. Nor do the other women and men in suits who work with her at the General Agricultural and Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ), formed in the mid-1980s to protect farm laborers. But arrest, harassment and even torture have been regular occupational hazards for Gertrude-the General Secretary of GAPWUZ-and her staff for many years.

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Unfortunately, things have not gotten much better since the 2008 elections when President Mugabe refused to cede power to the democratically elected Morgan Tsvangirai, a former union leader himself. The resulting power-sharing agreement has left the two sides battling for control as the nation plummets deeper into unemployment and poverty. At least 90 percent of the populati0n is not part of formal workforce.

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