WORKERS’ unions have suggested that proposed amendments to the Labour Act should promote collective bargaining, fair retrenchment and dispute resolution mechanisms, as well as access to finance, in order to end poverty.
by VENERANDA LANGA
In his 2018 national budget statement, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said they will be holistic amendments to the Labour Act to strike a balance between creating an environment conducive for investment and protecting the fundamental rights of employees.
But Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Peter Mutasa said while the country should strive to lure foreign investors, this should not leave workers vulnerable to any form of abuse by new capital.
“The problem with the budget is that it is pro-capital where Chinamasa is advocating for labour market flexibility and they want to hire and fire, as well as retrench, and so the budget is anti-labour,” he said.
“We need labour law amendments that protect workers, allow them to do collective bargaining, have rights to strike, have job security, a fair retrenchment framework and dispute resolution mechanisms, as well as allow trade unions to play a distribution role from enterprises into pay as you earn (Paye), and into society,” he said.
Mutasa said there was need for social safety nets so that vulnerable people in poverty-stricken areas are able to get cash transfers and rejuvenate economic activities at growth points and rural areas.
He said Zimbabwe needs to revert back to policies of 1985, where there was an egalitarian state and sustainable economic growth.
“The idea is that we need to protect labour, while we get foreign direct investment. We need laws that ensure workers have job protection. If the majority of workers are casual workers, it means they cannot access mortgages and this has a disruptive effect in the economy and banks because there won’t be hire purchase and business will feel it because workers have no money,” Mutasa said.
The ZCTU boss said the legislative framework must allow for equitable collective bargaining in order for workers to have more share of income and increase domestic demand which is good for business.