Labour unrest looms: ZCTU

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THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has warned that the government’s proposed move to introduce labour market flexibility and productivity-linked wages could trigger labour unrest in the country.

By Christopher Mahove

On Thursday, ZCTU acting secretary-general Gideon Shoko petitioned Public Service minister Nicholas Goche demanding that he convinces Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa to drop the proposal which was announced in the 2014 National Budget statement last month.

Shoko said the proposed move was tantamount to enslaving workers by seeking to “re-introduce colonial-era labour laws”.

Part of the protest letter reads: “Labour market flexibility is not a fair standard as it takes the employees back to the Master and Servant Act of 1901, which among others, is what our living and dead liberators fought to remove.”

Shoko implored Goche to impress upon Chinamasa that labour market flexibility was ultra vires the Constitution, which now provided for the right to fair and reasonable wages.

“Please inform Honourable Chinamasa that wages in this country are not imposed by anyone, but are agreed through collective bargaining. The problem with employers is that they by-pass the law and when ordered to correct, they cry foul and advocate for flexibility,” Shoko said.

He said linking wages to productivity did not work in a country where workers did not control the other means of production such as land, raw materials, markets, equipment, machinery and government policy.

The ZCTU leader warned that Chinamasa’s proposals were likely to trigger labour unrest.

“Europe is burning with protests as the ill-advised governments, succumbing to the dictates of the global financial powers, embraced labour market flexibility, failed to protect their people and now resort to austerity measures. Greece, Spain, New York, United Kingdom (and) Italy are engulfed in protests. Is this the path that Zanu PF intends to follow?

“During election, there were promises of employment creation, but how can we create employment while at the same time we lose such employment through labour market flexibility?” Shoko queried in his letter.

He said most company closures that have been recorded since 2012 were mainly caused by mismanagement, adding that Chinamasa’s views were informed by speculation from greedy employers who were failing to manage their companies.

“Press reports stated that in 2012, 149 companies filed for liquidation and according to Cecil Madondo of Tudor House Consultancy, who has managed 25 of the companies placed under judicial management, the liquidations were caused by gross mismanagement, lack of effective corporate governance and high level of indebtedness, which includes failure to pay the labourers,” he said.

Goche could not be reached to confirm receipt of the letter as his mobile phone went unanswered.

Part of the Budget statement at the centre of controversy reads: “It is, therefore, necessary, Mr Speaker Sir, that review of our labour laws also takes account of productivity. I am, therefore, calling upon my colleague, the Minister responsible for Labour, Hon. Goche, to seriously consider amendments to the Labour Act that relate work to productivity. Mr Speaker Sir, it is also necessary that we introduce in our Labour Laws, flexibility in the hiring of workers, as well as alignment of wage adjustments to labour productivity.939. In this regard, resuscitation of the Social Contract between Government, Labour and Business will be useful.”

Meanwhile the MDC-T yesterday said its MPs will vote against Chinamasa’s “anti-poor Budget”.

MDC-T shadow Public Service minister Paurina Mpariwa told journalists in Harare that MDC-T MPs will not endorse the Budget when it is eventually brought back to Parliament this month.

Mpariwa also castigated Goche’s threats to descend heavily on civil servants who have threatened to strike.

“We have noticed with serious concern unwarranted threats by Goche against civil servants who intend to engage in industrial action, and Goche’s intimidation is totally unacceptable and in variance with the country’s constitution,” said Mpariwa.

“Employees have a right to participate in collective job action and instead of making threats Goche should implement and honour his party promises in 2013 that they will award civil servants poverty datum line wages,” she said.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Hebert Muchehiwa , the owner of Concord company in Chiredzi, has not paid his employees for the past 7 months , not even a rand. He has been busy buying expensive vehicles for himself, his wife, all his children their wives while enslaving his employees, languishing them in poverty with some been kicked out of their rented houses for failing to pay monthly rentals. What do you say, ZCTU?

    • Ndihwo hubhinya hweZANU mwana wevhu wodoruma muromo wezasi kuvhanda mukonashanu ukada kumirira mbavha dzeZANU mhuri inofa yose nechikutumeno . Tsvaka mamwe mabhindauko okuti mhuri irarame ukada kuita ruzha gwemaungira egomo hapana chinobuda mwana wevhu ko warivona budget rawasu Chinamasa kwahi salary it depends neperformance yecompany so nyangwe ukainda kuCourt unowana Justice Bhunu ariko akarerekera kuZANU PF so hapana chinobuda .

  2. I seek to briefly state the truth on labour flexibility and wages in Europes most successful market.

    I am employed in Zeitarbeit in Germany.

    I receive Euro 8.19 per hour GROSS before mandatory reductions for pension and health insurance.

    I am paid 38 days AFTER my work is completed.

    My notice period is during the first year ONE day..

    My contract stipulates a 40 hour week…yet this ist the maximum …I often receive work for no more than 4 hours daily.

    There are more than 9 million coworkers in my sector of the German Economy.

    Together we are the foundation of one of the worlds most flexible, productive and efficient economies.

    I learn new skill continuously…and thanks to low costs within the economy eat four good meals and travel in high speed S-bahn trains daily.

    Germany now competes in several sectors on cost with China…

    Yet we retain our dedication to quality and accountability that China struggles to match.

    Zimbabweans need look no further than the Zeitarbeit legal provision where they truly wish to gain a place in world manufacturing.

    • remember most companies there are indigenous and u can not exploit yourselves. Most companies here are foreign and are hell bent on profiteering. Workers need protection

  3. my dear comrades, this issue has nothing to do with ZANU per se. the former finance minister, tendai Biti is on record calling for the introduction of these same measures to our labour law regime, lest we forget. this in itself represents a departure from the pro-poor, pro-people rhetoric these politicians talk about at rallies. the problem is that after having one too many in executive pubs at top company executives’ cost, they are forced to hallucinate like this to pliz their sponsors. (Dis)honourable Chinamasa and his Goche fellow would have taken the country to the colonial labour law era of the Master and Servant Ordinance of 1901 indeed, where the employee was always at the mercy of the employer.

    once such amendments are enacted and incorporated into our labour law, there wont be any job security to talk about whatsoever and the worker will be tormented at will by the master.this emanates from the undeniable fact that the employment relationship is , by nature, tilted in favour of the employers (the haves) as they have the resources while the employees are the have nots. There is therefore absolute need for the protection of the worker and it is the government’s moral responsibility to do so. If this is not the case, workers will need to take matters into their own hands, culminating in the labour unrest the ZCTU was talking about. this was exactly the case in the early 80s, where we had a series of wildcat strikes which forced the government to intervene and protect the worker, hence the formation of the ZCTU, establishment of workers committees at the workplace, incorporation of measures to curb retrenchments, enactment of the employment act and the minimum wages act, among other measures. chinamasa must be intelligent enough to know this. if we undo all these, we wld have taken one step ahead and more than 2 backwards.

    the inevitable result of the proposed amendments to our labour law is labour unrest, leading to civil unrest as these can never be separated- look at the formation of most powerful political movements both here and elsewhere, whether in the pre or post colonial era. the very government wld have shot itself in the foot indeed and will reap the benefits. companies should never be allowed to hire and fire and to temper with workers’ wages at will as proposed.

    and just to remind the uninitiated, Tendai Biti and crew are not qualified enough to speak in the worker’s defence in this case as they belong to the same orchestra with China master. I Rest my case.

    • ZANU promised people a certain level of minimum wage by a certain date. That is what the people want. Biti said you cannot ‘share nzou imi mabata katsuro’. BEDZI

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