Source: Labour opposes TNF Bill clauses | The Financial Gazette June 8, 2017
FINALISATION of the Tripartite Negotiation Forum (TNF) Bill has been stalled by disagreements over three clauses which labour says undermines the freedom of partners in the TNF.
Labour and government are wrangling over the inclusion of clauses that deal with the criminalisation of dissemination of information discussed in the forum; the period within which members seconded by employers and labour to TNF can be removed after notification; and the exclusive role of government in signing the forum’s minutes.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general, Japhet Moyo, said workers were not happy with the inclusion of the three clauses in the bill.
He said Section 19 of the TNF Bill states that all members of the TNF technical committee and the employees of the secretariat shall keep secret all information relating to the business of the forum.
Any member or employee who releases information from the TNF shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level eight or imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years or to both such fine and imprisonment.
The Bill also seeks to make the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister the sole authority entrusted with the responsibility of signing minutes of TNF’s meetings.
“Despite having agreed on numerous occasions that these three clauses are not compatible with the freedoms of social partners, government continues to present a Bill which has the same clauses,” Moyo said.
“Honestly, we have made our position very clear when we informed the TNF that as labour representatives, we are a mandated constituency which makes decisions on behalf of the workers. Therefore, to stipulate that we should not share information is very impossible because time and again we have to brief our membership for advice on any matters being discussed on their behalf.”
He said that the other clause in the TNF Bill, which seeks to make the minister the sole authority in endorsing minutes for meetings, violates the spirit of tripartism because it seeks to give one partner superiority over others.
Moyo said it was unfair to hold on to members for 35 days after they had been recalled by their respective constituencies.
Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe president, Josephat Kahwema, said business had no issues with the three clauses.
“I see no problem with the issue of upholding secrecy especially on issues that are still under discussion. Our respective constituencies will be involved because when we are invited all issues will be set on the agenda items. On my part, I think the clause is only aimed at avoiding pre-empting important issues before they are finalised,” he said.
Kahwema said divulging of information to the public has to be minimised in order to prevent unnecessary public debate on issues yet to be concluded and noted that there was nothing wrong with the signing of the minutes by government since all participants would be aware of the proceedings.
He added that the 35 days stipulated for the withdrawal of representative members from TNF was not problematic because the forum did not convene meetings everyday because they sometimes go for a month without meeting.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister’s legal adviser, Precious Sibiya, declined to comment, saying the Bill was still under consideration.
The TNF Bill aims to provide a legal framework for the three social partners — government, business and labour — to make their decisions legally binding with the objective of promoting social dialogue and promote poverty eradication, employment creation and economic turnaround. – By Alois Vinga