EMPLOYERS have called for a fixed retrenchment package to be legislated into the amended Labour Act to enable them to make plans when they want to lay off workers amid controversial redundancies due to a recent Supreme Court ruling, businessdigest has established.
At an Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe stakeholders’ consultative meeting on Wednesday in Harare, employers called for a fixed retrenchment package for employees of one weeks’ payment for every year served. This, they resolved, would avoid time-consuming negotiations and enable employers to plan adequately when downsizing staff.
Employers said the absence of a workable and structured retrenchment package framework has resulted in employers keeping an unsustainable number of workers at the threat of the company’s viability.
“Once legislated, the retrenchment package will enable us to plan and avoid strenuous negotiation processes and will be in line with the retrenchment regulations of our biggest trading partner South Africa,” one of the employers proposed at the meeting.
Employers also called for the removal of the term minimum retrenchment package from section 12 of the Labour Act, arguing that the word minimum would trigger prolonged and difficult negotiations as workers will be encouraged to start deliberating from the prescribed minimum wage.
Emcoz executive director John Mufukare told employers that the labour draft Bill they had received for their input did not contain what they agreed at the Tripartite Negotiating Forum meeting.
“The Bill is a disappointment,” Mufukare said. “It departs significantly in certain respects from the 13 principles we discussed.”
He said the government’s rush to forward the process of amending the Bill is unfair as it did not give employers adequate time to consult on their position on the Bill.
Employers and the workers’ body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, did not attend the hastily arranged TNF emergency meeting on Monday saying they needed more time to consult.
“It is very sad that we as employers have not had a chance to discuss with our partners (labour and government)” he said. “There is no point going to a meeting where you do not add value. You add value from an informed position which comes from consulting the constituency. Mufukare alone does not constitute Emcoz.”
On termination of contracts on three months’ notice, which has triggered the loss of more than 6 000 jobs, Mufukare said the process should only be used when it is not retrenchment, dismissal or illness.
A Supreme Court ruling that allowed employers to terminate contracts on July 17 has triggered a retrenchment bloodbath. More than 400 Sino-Zimbabwe workers on Wednesday last week were locked out of the company’s premises and served with termination letters.
TN Holdings, which has been struggling to stay afloat, laid off most of its employees as did furniture shop Pelhams, among others, on the basis of the same ruling.
Media companies have also been laying off workers.