THE Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) has said the ongoing labour law harmonisation that teachers have been pushing for would give clarity on the course of action to take in the event dialogue between the government and labour failed.
Zimta chief executive Sifiso Ndlovu yesterday said following a recent Zimta workshop on the Global Day of Action on the Right to Strike, it was resolved the government should ensure the harmonisation process be done speedily to enable them to fully exercise their right to strike and to participate in collective bargaining processes.
“Since these issues have been incorporated into the new Constitution, they must find expression in an Act of Parliament,” Ndlovu said.
“Once we have an Act, it then gives clarification on what must be done before we go for industrial action, informing us what is the conflict resolution alternative when dialogue has failed.”
He said although teachers celebrated their newly acquired right to strike, as provided for in Section 65(3) of the new Constitution, they wanted to exercise their right to enter into collective bargaining processes with the government because the current National Joint Negotiating Council platform had proved to be less effective over the years.
Ndlovu said it was important to promote “industrial democracy” which regarded job action as an alternative in resolving a deadlock in negotiations, adding that this was the missing link in the old governance charter.
He, however, bemoaned plans by the government to tighten labour laws to enable legal disputes with employees, which cost companies huge amounts of money, to be quickly and easily disposed of, largely in favour of the employer.
“This is a way of weakening labour unions. They give the employer an edge over the employee group and clearly this is something we don’t want.”
During the workshop, the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare ministry industrial relations labour officer Fadzai Matowe updated delegates on the status of labour law reforms, indicating that the Bill of the harmonised labour laws was now at the Attorney-General’s Office.
International Labour Organisation’s Conventions 87 gives workers the freedom of association and the right to organise and Convention 98 gives teachers a right to collective bargaining.