Business, labour slam Nssa scheme plans

BUSINESS and Labour are up in arms over plans by the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) to introduce the National Health Insurance and the Maternity Protection schemes amid murmurings this will put a further dent to their bottom line at a time companies are battling to stay afloat with workers losing jobs, businessdigest has learnt.

Kudzai Kuwaza

Nssa general manager James Matiza revealed, in a recent interview with a local daily, that the two schemes were expected to act as safety nets and bring relief to employers who have been paying wages to sick workers and pregnant employees.

An employer who spoke to businessdigest questioned government’s sincerity in introducing the two schemes.

“On one hand the government is introducing labour reforms to help boost productivity and on the other hand they are burdening us with two new schemes which will include a hefty administrative charge,” the employer said. “With one hand they are giving while they are taking with the other.”

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general Japhet Moyo said the new schemes were plans by the government to boost their depleted coffers at the expense of the workers.

“Government is taking a big brother approach to steal from the schemes,” Moyo said. “Someone somewhere is looking to pocket that money and steal from the workers.”

He said that the money making gimmick will not benefit the workers who are already burdened by inconsistent payment of salaries, retrenchments and company closures.

Moyo said the union has held a number of meetings with the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) to discuss the proposed schemes and revealed that employers shared the same concerns with them.

“ZCTU and Emcoz have held bilateral discussions on this issue and they have raised similar concerns such as transparency in the administration of the proposed schemes and where the funding for them will come from,” Moyo revealed.

He said they need assurances that the funds for the two schemes would be used properly and not the way pension funds are being used for the authority “to go on a buying spree.”

Meanwhile, Emcoz executive director John Mufukare revealed that most national employment councils (Necs) are yet to agree on minimum wages for 2015 with most companies yet to pay its employees’ salaries for March.

“You will be shocked by the number of companies who are yet to pay workers their March salaries,” Mufukare said.

He said with companies failing to pay salaries there is now more emphasis on survival than negotiating for wage increments.