Source: Govt committed to dialogue: Mupfumira | The Herald May 2, 2017
Walter Nyamukondiwa Chinhoyi Bureau
Government is committed to dialogue with social partners and is working on modalities to legislate the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) to involve workers and employers in policy formulation, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira has said.
This comes as the TNF has managed to agree on the principles that will guide amendments to the Labour Act (Chapter 28:01).
Amendment to the Act seeks to expunge amendments effected after the infamous Zuva Judgement of 2015 which resulted in thousands of workers being thrown into the streets on three months notice.
The draft bill has already been circulated to social partners who include Government, labour and the employers for their consideration.
In her address at Workers Day commemorations at Chinhoyi Stadium yesterday, Minister Mupfumira said Government valued the commitment of workers.
“Our commitment to social dialogue as a vehicle through which consensus can be reached to foster economic development is solid,” said Cde Mupfumira.
“The TNF managed to agree on the principles that will guide the amendment of the Labour Act (Chapter 28:01) which was hurriedly amended in 2015 in the wake of the Zuva judgment and therefore did not holistically address the issues and interests of both employers and employees.”
Social partners now have to agree on the final draft to be tabled before Parliament.
Turning to the legislation of the TNF, Cde Mupfumira said engagement was currently underway to come up with an agreed position.
“Speaking of engagement, Government is working tirelessly to ensure that the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) is legislated,” she said.
“To this end, modalities to finalise the TNF Bill have been activated and are at an advanced stage.”
The TNF provides Government, employers and workers a platform to discuss economic factors and their impact on labour to feed into the policy formulation process.
Government hailed and acknowledged the sacrifice, patriotism and commitment of workers in the country.
She said a fragmented safety and health legislation has not helped workers and consultations to review the occupational safety and health legislation which will lead to the enactment of one comprehensive Act of Parliament have been concluded.
Minister Mupfumira said moves were underway to revamp the operations of the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) to reduce deadweight and enhance value for contributors and pensioners.
She said NSSA was also working on a model for funding the National Health Insurance Scheme without any extra cost to the employers and employees.
Minister Mupfumira said modalities were being worked out to review the Zimbabwe Decent Work Country Programme which provides a framework for policy intervention to challenges in the labour market.
“While Government works to create an enabling environment to attract investors, the rights of workers should not be compromised,” she said.
“The working environment must be conducive for the development of the workers both socially and mentally.
“Thus improved working conditions are a prerequisite for a growing economy. That is why we continue to maintain our policy for zero tolerance of accidents and hazards at the workplace.”
Minister Mupfumira said the Zimbabwe National Productivity Institute had commenced preliminary work to gauge productivity in each sector of the economy.
“Productivity is at the centre of competitiveness, which is critical if we are to become a net exporter. It also enables us to create employment through revenue inflows and improvements in capacity utilisation,” she said.
Government has seen policy interventions including Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016 bearing fruit through increased capacity utilisation and reduced imports.
Minister Mupfumira said provision of decent housing at low prices was a national priority with several interventions including the setting up of the National Building Society helping to reduce the housing backlog.
Apex council chairperson Mrs Cecilia Alexander said there was need to improve the labour environment.
“We believe that time is overdue for Government to improve the pay package of its dedicated employees to above the Poverty Datum Line,” she said.
She said the harmonisation of the Labour laws should be expedited to improve the working and welfare condition of workers.
Mrs Alexander said the scraping of the school teacher leave should be urgently reversed as it was discriminatory and unjust.
She said there was need for wider consultation on the introduction of the National Health Scheme.
Trade Union Congress of Zimbabwe acting president Mr Farai Mupango called on Government to expedite Labour Law harmonsisation.
He urged companies in salary arrears to workout other means of payment like housing stands.
Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions president Mr Alfred Makwarimba said home-based policies were the panacea to improving the economy and not prescriptions from Bretton Woods like the International Monetary Fund.