ZCTU warns govt of more protests in 2016

via ZCTU warns govt of more protests in 2016 – NewZimbabwe 20/12/2015

THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) says while 2015 has been the worst year for workers, government must brace itself for more demonstrations in 2016 should the “ill-treatment” continue.

Thousands of workers this year lost their jobs following the July 17 Supreme Court ruling which allowed companies to fire employees on three months’ notice without compensation.

The judgement was passed by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku after two employees of an oil concern had challenged the termination of their employment without compensation.

In an interview with NewZimbabwe.com in Harare at the weekend, ZCTU national organiser, Michael Kandukutu, said although government managed to “smuggle” its labour market flexibility plan it should brace itself for more protests against “this restrictive” labour law.

“We have seen private employers and the government working tirelessly to disempower the workers. After government failed to put its labour plan as a law it then influenced the courts to come up with judgments which favoured the government and some employers and this has disempowered the employee,” said Kandukutu.

He said the struggle continues next year with ZCTU planning to mobilise masses to force government to respect workers.

“We are given that opportunity by the Constitution which empowers us to demonstrate whenever we feel that our rights have been infringed and as workers our power is in the demonstrations which we will continue to stage,” said Kandukutu.

“When we are staging these demonstrations we are not calling for nothing else than reminding government to value workers because they are the ones who are creating the country’s wealth.”

The labour representative body was, on several times, this year, blocked by the police from staging peaceful demonstrations in central Harare.

In August, Parliament hastily rubber stamped the Labour Act amendments with the aim of halting the wanton dismissal of workers, among other things.

Instead, the amendments left both labour and business disillusioned.

The changes were mainly meant to outlaw the Supreme Court clause which allowed employers to terminate contracts with workers on three months’ notice without retrenchment packages.

Chidyausiku’s ruling led to the loss of nearly 30 000 jobs as private firms and state entities moved to rationalise operations and cut costs in an environment characterised by a crippling liquidity crunch, low capacity utilisation, falling productivity and deflation.

The year 2015 also saw widespread hunger caused by a crippling drought.