THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions has turned to President Robert Mugabe in its quest to stop the government from introducing labour marker flexibility.
By Christopher Mahove
The labour body wrote to the President last week pleading with him to stop Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa from introducing the concept, saying it was a tool used by Western capitalists to destroy African economies and turn the people against their own governments.
In his letter dated January 14 which was addressed to Mugabe, ZCTU acting secretary-general Gideon Shoko said the move would effectively remove the protection which the government was providing to workers through deregulation of labour laws.
“Your Excellency, on behalf of the workers of Zimbabwe, we appeal to you not to accept the prescribed concept as it is likely to cause social unrest in the country, increase poverty and inequalities,” Shoko said.
He said Chinamasa was championing the interests of global financial lenders who wanted to manipulate the country’s legislators to push their agenda as happened in the 1990s when they introduced structural adjustment programmes.
“Your Excellency, the global financial lenders; the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and others deceived your government in the 1990s to embark on the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) under the guise of growing the economy and employment creation.
“The Global Financial powers are back again, prescribing how we must manipulate our workers for their benefit by influencing our policymakers under the same guise of labour market flexibility,” Shoko said.
He said the current Labour Act Chapter 28:01, was already flexible enough as it allowed for negotiation of conditions of employment in terms of Sections 25 and 74.
“It allows termination of employment through a collective bargaining agreement entered between the workers and employers, It allows retrenchment of workers through negotiations between the employer and the employees or their representatives and only requires government intervention if the parties are deadlocked and also allows for court intervention if a party is not satisfied with government decision. So what more flexibility do they want?,” Shoko queried.
He said the flexibility which Chinamasa was advocating for would make every employee in Zimbabwe a casual worker who would be paid on commission.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba could not be contacted to confirm or deny receipt of the letter as he was not picking up his phone yesterday afternoon.
Mugabe is currently on his annual vacation and is expected to be back in office towards the end of the month.
The ZCTU has also written to Nicholas Goche, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, registering their distaste at Chinamasa’s proposals.
Goche is yet to respond.