AROUND HALF a million trade unionists in Zambia went on strike recently against wage cuts and tax rises forced through by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. JOYCE NONDE is the general secretary of a union allied to the Federation of Free Trade Unions of Zambia. She was in London last weekend addressing the War on Want conference and spoke to Socialist Worker.
'DAILY LIFE is a struggle for the great majority of people in Zambia. Eighty percent live in dire poverty. The privatisation plans pushed through by the IMF and World Bank have led to at least 100,000 redundancies.
In Zambia one worker may be the breadwinner for ten people, so you can see just how many are hit by such unemployment. The latest moves which the government implemented at the behest of international financiers are to freeze wages and put taxes up 10 percent. Our country is being shattered by the way the system works. Child labour has soared and prostitution has more than doubled.
Trained teachers who were supposed to go into the rural areas have been withdrawn because the government is slashing its education budget. But we are fighting back and we will not allow our people to be destroyed. The recent strike was a great success and unless the government retreats, we will fight again.'