Employers to meet over Labour Act changes

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Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira

EMPLOYERS will next Thursday meet in Harare to discuss and make further proposals to the agreed Labour Act amendments, businessdigest has learnt.

By Kudzai Kuwaza

Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira

Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira

Government, business and labour, under the auspices of the Labour Law Advisory Council, last month agreed on the removal of contentious clauses in the Labour Act, but remain deadlocked on the clause that obliges employers to compensate workers they dismissed after last year’s Supreme Court ruling.

The meetings were chaired by the legal adviser to the Ministry of Labour, Precious Sibiya. The three parties agreed to remove certain clauses, including one which gives labour officers the powers to be both conciliator and arbitrator.

“Employers will meet on May 26 to discuss what their representatives in the technical committee committed them to,” a source familiar with the developments told businessdigest this week.

“The employers will then make recommendations and decide if what we committed them to should be cast in stone or rejected.”

The principals of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) who include Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions president George Nkiwane and Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) president Josephat Kahwema will then meet to decide whether to adopt what was agreed by the TNF technical committee or send it back for further review, sources revealed.

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. Despite the agreements, there is still no consensus on the retrospective clause that obliges employers to compensate workers dismissed using last July’s Supreme Court ruling. Employers have taken government to court over the clause. In its application filed at the High Court in September last year, employers argued there were many areas in the Labour Amendment Act that needed revision by the courts, taking into account the country’s Constitution.

“This is an application for a declaration of the constitutional invalidity of certain provisions of the Labour Amendment Act No 5 of 2015,” Emcoz executive director John Mufukare said in his founding affidavit.

Meanwhile, the cash shortages that have hit the country resulting in long winding queues outside several banks are seriously affecting productivity at the workplace.

“The cash shortage is having a terrible impact on production time,” one employer said. “You cannot expect an employee who is struggling to get cash to pay school fees to concentrate on their work.”

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