LABOUR and business have bemoaned dispute resolution delays at the Ministry of Labour with disagreements taking as long as five months before they are heard, businessdigest has learnt.
Amendments to the Labour Act last year gave labour officers the power to both conciliate and arbitrate disputes, a clause that has angered both workers and employer bodies. The clause is set to be amended as government, business and labour are now meeting every Friday under the auspices of the Labour Advisory Council to clean up the labour legislation. The council is a subcommittee of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum(TNF).
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general Japhet Moyo told businessdigest last week the backlog created as a result of the powers given to labour offices to play conciliation and arbitrator has been detrimental to both workers and employers.
“The backlog in clearing labour disputes is such that if you take your dispute today for arbitration you are given a hearing date for August,” Moyo said.
He said the backlog in the dispute resolution process would bring uncertainty and dampen investor confidence.
An employer told businessdigest the delays in the resolution of disputes made it very difficult for employers to chart a way forward.
“Obviously, justice delayed is justice denied,” the employer said. “We on the employer’s side, we are not in favour of delayed justice. We are just as aggrieved as the workers are on this issue. Because of the delays we might end up with backdated liabilities”.
Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe president Josephat Kahwema said this was one of the issues under discussion by the TNF.
“These are some of the issues under discussion and need to be sorted out,” Kahwema said.
He said he hoped that with the finalisation of discussions to clean up the act, the issue of such backlogs “will end soon.”