BY VANESSA GUZHA
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has implored companies to prioritise social dialogue at workplaces to minimise costly work-related accidents.
The call was made by ZCTU health and social welfare head Nathan Banda during a conference organised by the National Social Security Authority in Harare yesterday.
The conference, which brought together workers, employers and government was held under the theme Reinforcing Social Dialogue: A Strong Foundation for Building Resilient Occupational Safety and Health Systems.
Banda said companies could minimise work-related accidents if they pursued social dialogue and appreciated the safety gaps at workplaces.
“Sometimes you see management wanting to close out trade unions or worker committees each time they want to engage with employers on the need to improve workplaces safety and health programmes,” he said.
“Social dialogue is one area that if not properly encouraged, will result in most of what we are planning in terms of creation of safe work and safe and healthy workplace coming close to none existent.”
Social dialogue involves all types of negotiation, consultation or simply exchange of information between or among, representatives of governments, employers and workers, on issues of common interest relating to economic and social policy.
It can exist as a tripartite process, with government as an official party to the dialogue, or it may consist of bipartite relations only between labour and management or trade unions and employers’ organisations, with or without indirect government involvement.
Banda cited the Norton-based tiling company Sunny Yi Feng saga that occurred in June as an example of situations where management did not want to entertain social dialogue.
He said employers were failing to accommodate their employees in social dialogue because they are concerned with pushing profits ahead of workers’ safety.
Social dialogue, he said, was not thriving because government was reluctant to adopt international standards.
Langton Ngorima, from the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare ministry, said social dialogue was a continuous process, hence there was room for improvement.