THE future of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) hangs in balance after the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) said it was suspending participation in the forum’s discussi
The TNF is a loose coalition of business, government and labour to forge a social contract to deal with issues of mutual concern.
ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo said they decided to pull out of the forum after government ordered the deportation of their South African counterparts, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), earlier this month.
“Nothing is moving at the TNF. We find it very difficult to continue our participation after what government did to our Cosatu colleagues,” Matombo said.
“We will put our participation in the freezer for a while. This was one of the resolutions we made at the general council meeting.”
This will be the second time labour has pulled out of the forum if the ZCTU follows through its threat.
In April 2003, labour pulled out of the talks after government unilaterally increased the price of fuel.
The TNF only resumed last year after intervention by South African labour minister Membathisi Mdladlana.
Government earlier this month denied a fact-finding Cosatu delegation entry in the country.
The 15-member delegation was accused of breaching government protocol by seeking to enter the country without prior clearance by the Ministry of Labour. It was turned back at Harare International Airport.
Labour and Social Welfare minister Paul Mangwana said government was not worried about the ZCTU pulling out of the discussions.
“They can go ahead and pull out. They do not have monopoly over labour representation,” he said.
“As government we do not care if they pull out. There are other organisations willing to wok with government who can represent workers.”
He however said the labour union was still to communicate its final decision to government.
“If they want to play politics let them do so but they should know that they do not have a monopoly of the country’s workers.”
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president, Pattison Sithole, refused to comment saying they would wait for an official statement from the ZCTU first.
“We do not want to make a bad situation worse. It would be bad on our part to say anything without having seen the official statement,” said Sithole.