Harare, March 24, 2014 – Government and labour are headed for a showdown following the announcement by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, that Cabinet was mulling reviewing labour regulations.
Chinamasa said Cabinet had agreed on amending the Labour Act Chapter 28:01 to deal with constraints in retrenchments, terminal benefits, downsizing, working hours and arbitral awards system.
This, he said, was after the realisation that the economy was operating on high costs and low productivity which had repercussions on its competitiveness.
But the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the country’s largest labour umbrella body, says government jumped the gun as it had not exhausted the necessary channels before taking the proposal to Cabinet.
ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo told NewsDay last week that the labour body was shocked by Chinamasa’s announcement as the document was still at the technical committee stage by the Tripartite Negotiating Forum.
“Our hope is that it is only a newspaper story because if it is reality, we are going to reject it. We will challenge it even if it means going back to the streets.
“We never discussed any employment flexibility or productivity linked wages as part of the labour law review. We are surprised that what Chinamasa presented in his budget statement before presentation to social partners is now already included in labour law reform proposals and has already been tabled before Cabinet,” Moyo said.
“The concept he is talking about has been tried elsewhere and researches have been done by renowned organisations such as the ILO (International Labour Organisations) which have proved that they don’t create jobs at all,” Moyo said.
He said while Zanu PF spoke of the creation of more than two million jobs in its election manifesto, the policies Chinamsa was advocating for were working against that goal.
“We expect government to follow the set rules as agreed, that is, take the document to the technical committee, to the principals and then to the TNF (Tripartite Negotiating Forum), although we are aware it has not yet been legislated and finally to cabinet,”
Labour Law Reform negotiations were started in 2009 during the inclusive government, mainly as part of the implementation of the ILO Commission of Inquiry’s recommendations and the parties had narrowed their differences on almost all the issues.