TNF principals break labour law deadlock

GOVERNMENT, business and labour have finally broken the deadlock on the amendment of the Labour Act, businessdigest has established.

By Kudzai Kuwaza

This was revealed at the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe consultative meeting held in Harare this week. Emcoz director John Mufukare told employers on Tuesday in the capital that an agreement had been reached at a principal level. “There has been an agreement on the labour law reform which we have accepted and hope we can live with,” Mufukare told employers.

The Tripartite Negotiating Forum principals thrashed out an agreement and managed to resolve the sticking points such as retrenchment. The government was represented by Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira, business was represented by Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe president Josephat Kahwema, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions was represented by its deputy president Peter Mutasa while the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions was represented by its secretary-general Kennias Shamuyarira.

The principals met after both the Labour Law Advisory Council and the TNF technical committee had failed to agree on amendments to the Labour Act.

The TNF is a social dialogue platform that brings together government, business and labour to negotiate key socio-economic matters.

Should there be no agreement between an employer and retrenched workers, then the case must be taken to the Retrenchment Board which should come up with a decision within 30 days, the principals agreed.

The TNF principals also agreed that the ministry will come up with a timeframe within which workers give employers notice to strike, Mufukare said.

Labour wanted the notice period to be reduced from the current 14 working day period to seven while employers wanted the status quo to remain.

“The ministry will come up with a timeframe that will be between what is wanted by labour and what is by business,” Mufukare said at the meeting.

He told employers that the International Labour Organisation had offered to assist with the drafting of the Labour bill that would incorporate the agreed principals. Some of the employers at the meeting expressed concerns that the drafting of the bill could leave out or misconstrue what had been agreed.

Mufukare, however, assured employers that the bill will be presented to them before it is taken to Parliament and signed into law.

Labour lawyer Rodgers Matsikidze took employers through the 13 principles to enlighten them on what they should expect in the amended Labour Act.

However, the deadlock over the amendment that obligates employers to compensate workers they dismissed last year after the Supreme Court ruling allowing them to do so on just three months’ notice remains unresolved.