ZCATWU Background @ 02 Nov 2015
The Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Trade workers Union (ZCATWU) has its origins dating back to the 1950s and by then the union was structured on fragmented lines on the regional basis. For instance there was the Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers (Salisbury branch, Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers (Bulawayo branch), Amalgamated Building Trades Workers Union of Mashonaland, Amalgamated Building Workers Trade Union of Matebeland and the Matebeland Electrical Trade Union. All these unions were known as Building Trades Union (BTU) by then.
Before independence black workers were not allowed to form trade unions and as a result only whites belonged to these fragmented unions spread throughout the country’s provinces. Blacks were not allowed to practice as artisans or brick layers and remain marginalized and were only employed as general hands.
The native black workers in the industry did not have a pension, medical aid and their conditions remained inferior because of racial discrimination which existed during the colonial period. In the post independence era in 1980 the union became known as the Building Workers Union (BWU) but its membership was restricted to Asians.
After independence in 1980 black workers began to demand better working conditions and recognition including the right to belong and participate in trade union activities. In 1983 the union changed its name to Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Trades Workers Union (ZCATWU) and opened its doors to all employees in the construction industry. All workers in the industry were now eligible to contribute to the industry pension fund. The union is affiliated to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Unions, a labour federation which was formed in February 1981, bringing together 52 fragmented trade unions and six national labour centers which existed during the colonial period.