The Australian Council of Trade Unions joined with other trade unions around the world today to condemn the assault and detention of Zimbabwe’s opposition and trade union leaders, including Morgan Tsvangirai leader of the main Zimbabwean opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change.
The ACTU calls for the immediate release of the detainees and their access to medical attention.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow said: “Unions around the world are deeply concerned with the latest severe breach of human rights in Zimbabwe.”
It has been reported that Morgan Tsvangirai and other leaders were arrested and badly beaten on Sunday night and that the trade union offices of the Zimbabwe Council of Trade Unions (ZCTU) were raided and ransacked on Tuesday morning by government security forces.
The headquarters of the Zimbabwe Trade Union Congress (ZCTU) were raided by government security forces, as part of a “concerted effort to try and crush all civic organisations” according to ZCTU President Lovemore Matombo. 
Government Central Intelligence Organisation officials and police ransacked the union offices at 9.30am, assaulted three ZCTU staff members and detained the organisation’s Financial Administrator Galileo Chirebvu.  While it is believed that Chirebvu was later released, police removed union campaign materials for a planned peaceful protest on April 3-4.
The ZCTU had been in discussions with the country’s Labour Minister in an effort to find solutions to the economic crisis that now besets Zimbabwe, with inflation in the country spiralling out of control at some 1,700%. 
A preliminary meeting involving government, trade union and employer representatives took place on 12 March to formalise arrangements for a full tripartite meeting this week, however the attack on the trade union offices has shattered prospects for constructive negotiations.
“The ZCTU has consistently called for dialogue and has sought tripartite discussions to help find a way out of Zimbabwe’s terrible economic and social situation”, said ACTU President Sharan Burrow. 
“This latest attack by President Mugabe’s security forces shows a determination to control the situation by force, rather than to work with civil society and unions to put an end to the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe”, she added.
The raids on the union offices and arrests follow the fatal shooting by Zimbabwe riot police of a supporter of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) at a prayer rally in Harare’s Highfield township on Sunday 11 March and the detention and bashing of leaders of other civil society organisations in the last two days.
“The ACTU calls on the Australian Government and other members of the international community to redouble efforts to ensure the Mugabe Government ends these flagrant breaches of workers’ and human rights and that trade union, civil society and political leaders are released unharmed,” said Ms Burrow.