GOVERNMENT, business and labour are meeting every Friday under the auspices of the Labour Law Advisory Council in a bid to clean up recent controversial amendments to the Labour Act.
By Kudzai Kuwaza
The three parties have been meeting since February 26 to begin the process of further amending the Labour Act. The first meeting, chaired by the Director of Labour Administration Clemence Vusani, was attended by representatives of government who include the ministry’s legal advisor Precious Sibiya, business representatives as well as officials of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions.
They met again on Friday last week where they agreed to begin negotiations based on the 13 principles which the three parties agreed on in 2014. The deputy director of labour administration, Francis Mafuratidze, who was chairing last week’s meeting, said the submissions made on the amendments by business, government and labour had been taken to the office of the law reviewer at the Justice ministry.
The Labour Law Advisory Council is a sub -committee of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF).
The TNF is a social dialogue platform that brings together government, business and labour to negotiate key socio-economic matters. It has been in existence since 1998 as a voluntary and unlegislated chamber in which socio-economic matters are discussed and negotiated over by the partners.
“The government has ordered that the committee meet every Friday until the Labour Act is cleaned up,” an informed source said. “The government proposed to scrap the amendment stipulating that labour officers be both conciliator and arbitrator virtually making them judge, jury and executioner. They also proposed to remove the clause that entitles workers fired for indiscipline to compensation which is similar to that of one being retrenched.”
However, the main sticking point remains the clause that obliges employers to compensate workers dismissed using last year’s July 17 Supreme Court ruling that allowed employers to fire workers on three months’ notice without paying a retrenchment package. This was one of the amendments to the Labour Act pushed through Parliament by Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira last year.
“The major issue is the retrospective application of the law with neither government nor business willing to give up ground on that,” an insider said. “Others are just little niggly things that need to be agreed upon.”
Labour is advocating for every worker to be compensated regardless of the reason of the contract termination.
Retrenchments are now the order of the day.