THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has approached the International Labour Organisation (ILO), accusing the government of using cheap prison labour at politicians’ farms.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
ZCTU president, Peter Mutasa said the Sadc Protocol on Employment and Labour and ILO Protocol outlaw unpaid prison labour in the country.
The hiring-out of prison labour at politicians’ farms became topical in Parliament during the pre-budget seminar last year.
The Justice and Parliamentary Portfolio Committee said politicians should pay the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services for such services.
“The Sadc Protocol on Employment and Labour and ILO Protocol will assist end forced labour, and in the case of Zimbabwe it usually involves the use of prisoners on politicians’ farms without pay and involuntarily,” Mutasa said.
“The ZCTU had already taken this matter to the ILO as a complaint and domestication of the Sadc Protocol on Employment and Labour will close this matter.”
He said the two protocols brought by Labour minister Petronella Kagonye for ratification in the National Assembly should now be domesticated to end labour vices.
Mutasa said labour infractions that should end include failure to pay as per collective bargaining agreements like stipulated salaries, non-payment of overtime and mis-classification of employees as volunteers or independent contractors, and sexual harassment at work, as well as unfair dismissals.
“The State now has an obligation to ensure that the two protocols are given effect by incorporating them into the labour law. Our domestic law must provide for unhindered access to justice, adequate compensation and other remedies to victims. In addition, there must be provision in our laws for rehabilitation of the victims,” he said.
Mutasa said the Judiciary, including national employment councils, labour officers and Labour Court officials, needs to be oriented for them to give effect to the objectives of the Sadc Protocol on Employment and Labour and the ILO Protocol.
“We also expect the State to put in place mechanisms for implementation and monitoring. For this to happen, the State must activate and fund the Sadc National Steering Committee in order for social partners to effectively monitor and evaluate implementation of the protocol,” he said.
He said the snail’s pace in implementing labour reforms by the government was leading to perceptions that they were insincere about these reforms, adding that the fixation of government in luring business at the expense of workers’ welfare also paints a negative picture of government towards labour.