THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) yesterday said it was deeply concerned about the unilateral decision taken by the Zanu PF-led government to review the Labour Act despite its objections.
Presenting his 2014 budget in December last year, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said it was necessary to introduce labour law flexibility in the hiring of workers as well as alignment of wage adjustments to labour flexibility. The move was, however, condemned by workers.
In a speech read on his behalf by the general secretary of the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers’ Union, Gift Mutasa at Workers’ Day commemoration at White City Stadium in Bulawayo, ZCTU president George Nkiwane said they were deeply concerned that the government had decided to press ahead with its decision to review the Labour Act despite unions’ objections.
Nkiwane warned that the government’s unilateralism would force workers to demonstrate to protect their rights.
“We are deeply concerned that the Zanu PF government has decided to go ahead with its decision to review the Labour Act despite our objections to the move,” he said.
“In other words, the Finance minister wants employers to pay poor wages as well as allow them to hire and fire without hindrances.
“The minister claimed in his budget statement that the labour laws in this country were ‘skewed in favour of employees’ and this contributed to company closures.
“We say no to labour market flexibility and productivity-linked wages.
“We reiterate that we will use all the energy we have to resist changes to the labour law that have adverse effects on the workers, even if it means going into streets to protect workers and taking up the issue with the International Labour Organisation.”
Nkiwane said ZCTU was demanding full involvement and participation of all key stakeholders, including labour, in national development processes; implementation of the Kadoma Declaration to deal with the country risk factor; establishment of value chain systems which are employment-intensive so as to create jobs, among other fundamental demands.
He said they were worried that there was no concrete action being taken against executives earning obscene salaries. Workers’ unions present at the function urged the government to open industries and not prioritise “useless” programmes like ZimAsset.
ZimAsset is the government’s economic blueprint adopted from the Zanu PF 2013 election manifesto.
The unions said workers were earning slave wages while bosses paid themselves astronomic incentives.
This year’s Workers’ Day was commemorated under the theme “Workers intensify the struggle. No to labour market flexibility”.
It was attended by government officials as well as MPs, among others.