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Labour Bill consultations on next month

KUDZAI KUWAZA
BUSINESS and labour have intensified efforts to ensure that their concerns are addressed in the labour law amendments with public consultations set to begin next month.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare will carry out countrywide consultations next month on the amendments of the labour law.

The need for amendments was spurred by the 2015 Supreme Court ruling which allowed employers to dismiss workers on three months’ notice without paying retrenchment packages.

This resulted in thousands of workers losing their jobs, which jolted the government to remove the clause. Workers unions estimate that 30 000 jobs were lost as a result of the Supreme Court ruling.

The committee’s chairperson, Emma Ncube told businessdigest this week that although they had not been given dates for public consultations, she expected this to be done early May.

“We are going to hold the public consultations for a week and the committee is going to split into two groups for the outreach programme because there is a lot of ground to be covered,” she said.

A representative of the mining sector, Edward Muvhuro told businessdigest that they were not happy with some of the clauses that have been proposed as part of amendments.

Among them, he said, was the clause to extend the maternity leave period.

“Increasing the days of maternity leave without looking at the affordability on the side of the employer does not make sense,” he said.

“Maternity leave should be seen as a service to the nation and therefore, the National Social Security Authority must come in and share the cost with the employer.”

Muvhuro said employers were up in arms over the clause that mandates employers to compensate dismissed errant workers.

However, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary general Japhet Moyo dismissed the call by employers not to compensate fired workers.

“You have already punished the worker by firing them and now you want to punish them again by not giving them a package. That is nonsense,” he said.

Moyo said they were fighting to have the clause of a minimum retrenchment package of two weeks wages for every year served removed from the amendments.

The amendments, he argued, should not set a minimum retrenchment package, arguing that the retrenchment package should be decided as a result of negotiations between a company and its works council. Moyo said the ZCTU was advocating for the reduction of powers given to the Labour minister, particularly the need for workers’ unions to register with the ministry.

“The International Labour Organisation has said that the powers given to the minister are excessive,” he said. “Why do we need the minister to micromanage unions?”

In an interview earlier this year, Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe president Demos Mbauya  expressed frustration at the glacial pace at which the process of labour amendments were taking place.

“It is a concern. We had some engagements towards the end of last year with the government through the ministry of Labour and we shared with them our views and feedback regarding some of our clauses in the Labour Amendment Act,” he said.

“We have areas where we are agreeing and we have got areas that we are disagreeing with.

“What we are intending to do as Emcoz is that as they carry out the parliamentary outreach programme on the Bill, we intend to engage parliament and share with them our views.”

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