LABOUR and Social Services minister Paurina Mpariwa has urged local companies to increase labour productivity against the backdrop of massive job cuts and economic slowdown.
CHIEF BUSINESS REPORTER
Addressing delegates at the Institute of People Management labour briefing yesterday, Mpariwa said a productivity-based approach for business was critical in stimulating economic growth at a time when capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector had plunged.
The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries recently carried out a sector-wide survey, which showed that capacity utilisation had dropped to 44, 2% from 58, 2% due to capital constraints and high labour costs, among other factors.
“The Zimbabwean economy witnessed a slowdown in economic growth as evidenced by the decline in capacity utilisation levels in most of the productive sectors of the economy,” she said.
“The challenging economic environment has brought instability in the labour market where invaluable productive time is expended on settling industrial disputes, while retrenchments of workers became a primed solution across all sectors of the economy as business entities sought to contain labour costs.
“The high rate of prolonged negotiations is an indication of unhealthy standoffs that exist between employers and workers which tend to derail productivity.
“The only way we can grow the economic cake is by increasing labour productivity and enhancing the competitiveness of our goods and services.”
Mpariwa said Zimbabwe’s labour force was characterised by high levels of temporary employment to permanent employment pointing to volatility of the labour market.
The introduction of new technologies and a downturn in business, according to experts, has resulted in retrenchments.
A labour force survey carried out by the State-owned statistics agency, Zimstats, last year shows that the domestic labour industry was fast becoming informalised as companies continued to face viability problems.
The CZI blames the country’s labour laws for the uncompetiveness of local firms.
“Our labour laws are inflexible and are now a hindrance to business performance,” CZI president Kumbirai Katsande said recently.
“Labour law reform is unavoidable. It is time for Zimbabwe to directly resolve these fundamental problems.
“There is no way out. And no one delivers the answers because of the nature and extent of the economic crisis. We just have to work together.”