Labour Bill: Parly recalled

via Labour Bill: Parly recalled | The Herald August 15, 2015

Parliament is expected to pass the Labour Amendment Bill next week after President Mugabe summoned parliamentarians from their recess to consider amendments to the Labour Act.

The Bill is expected to amend the Labour Act and remove common law provisions that have been used by employers to unilaterally dismiss thousands of workers on notice, sending them home empty-handed.

Clerk of Parliament Mr Kennedy Chokuda announced the recall of parliamentarians in a statement yesterday.

“The Clerk of Parliament Mr Chokuda, would like to inform all Members of Parliament that pursuant to Section 110 (2) (c) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, His Excellency the President, Cde R.G Mugabe, has summoned the National Assembly to sit on the 18th (Tuesday) of August 2015 and the Senate on the 20th of August 2015.

“The summoning of the National Assembly and the Senate is meant to enable Parliament to consider the Labour Amendment Bill, HB 7 of 2015 and any related business, which may arise. Thus all Members of the National Assembly must be at Parliament on Tuesday, 18 August, 2015. All Senators must be at Parliament on the 20th of August, 2015,” he said.

Parliament had been on its annual recess and was expected to resume sitting on September 1.

Under the proposed amendments to the Labour Act, employers will only be able to terminate a contract of employment on three grounds, namely: disciplinary reasons in terms of the code of conduct; if the employer and the employee agree; and/or if the employee has been engaged on a fixed-term of contract for a specified task.

Employers will, however, have to go through the normal retrenchment exercise if none of the above three scenarios apply.

The Bill will streamline the current process of retrenchment, with works councils and employment councils having to negotiate compensation packages that will apply to all future retrenchments in the enterprise or the industry concerned.

The Bill also gives a default of at least one month’s pay for each year of service although the Labour Minister must consult the Retrenchment Board before registering an agreement that contains only this default.

The Retrenchment Board will fix the minimum package in cases where there are no works or employment councils.

Employers who cite inability to pay under these laid down procedures, in the event of retrenchment, can apply for exemption to the relevant employment council, which will have 14 days to decide the matter taking into account ability to pay, relocation and the security of the remaining staff.

The amendment also retains the present procedures of notice and negotiation to find other solutions to retrenchment, but if there is no agreement, then employers wishing to retrench must apply to their employment council, which will have 30 days to determine the matters arising from the disagreement for special measures to avoid retrenchment.

Another major proposed amendment is that employees on fixed contracts will have the same benefits as those on contracts without limits after they have served continuously for a period laid down by the employment council, or in its absence, by the Labour Minister.

Labour unions argue that at least 20 000 people have been fired since July 17 when the Supreme Court passed the judgement.

Meanwhile, Unilever Zimbabwe has disputed figures obtained from labour unions which indicated that it had fired some of its employees using the Supreme Court ruling.

“Following the publication of the above mentioned newspaper article in The Herald of 5 August 2015, Unilever would like to advise that the reference to 186 of its employees being retrenched is erroneous,” said communications manager Kudzai Makuni.

“Unilever Zimbabwe currently employees 187 full time employees, all of whom continue to contribute to the operations of the business locally and regionally,” Makuni said.


  • comment-avatar

    Well, once again the government (Mugabe) signals right and turns left. I hope the IMF and World Bank are watching this charade. Whatever happened to the pronouncements of Mugabe, Mnanagagwa and Chinamasa, that Zimbabwe had learned it’s lesson and was crafting new legislation that was friendly to foreign investors? Once more, government has decided that it knows better then the owners how to run their own businesses. No businessman is going to seriously consider starting a company in Zimbabwe if he is forever saddled with high labor costs that do not change. If a company is not profitable, the owner must be the one to decide to retrench, and at which cost, not the government or some advisory council.

    One of the biggest impediments to change in Zimbabwe is that there is a pervasive culture of entitlement. Everyone feels that they are entitled to always have their job, or that they are entitled to a new vehicle, or a new house, or entitled to tuition support, or entitled to a pension, or entitled to low cost loans, or a new stand, or even food! In the real world, people have to work hard to acquire those things and their employer, or the government is not presumed to be required to provide them. In order to survive, businesses have to be profitable, and governments must live within their means. Of course, in the real world, property rights are respected, and if someone owns something, it’s theirs forever, or until they sell or give it away. However, as we are still seeing today in Zimbabwe, the government or more properly, Mugabe and ZANU-PF, feels that it can come in and take anything at any time. And so there is always an insecurity in the country, because no one knows when they will lose whatever they have.

    One of the things that Mugabe has been very good at during his rule, is to take away the tools that individuals need to make decisions and to succeed on their own, because he’s afraid that if they are empowered in any way they will turn against him. He’s probably right. He’s created a society in which most individuals look for their salvation to a larger organization, or Mugabe himself, and so they have lost the ability to change for the better, without guidance from above – and of course, this leads him to think of himself as a god-like figure. So you see individuals who are impotent to make any improvement on their own, and one of the few ways that they can do so is through graft and corruption – which Mugabe has to tolerate, because to do otherwise would create more internal conflict within his social creation. But it also scares away new businesses and new jobs and any hope for change for a better future.

    • comment-avatar
      Doris 6 years ago

      100% correct. So more business will close their doors creating more unemployment.

  • comment-avatar
    Msizeni silwelani 6 years ago

    Do we really have quality parliamentarians who can engage on serious issues? I doubt. The usual charade and Mugabe praise singing will dominate. The next day we have The Herald boldly announcing that “contributing to the debate MP so and so said that his constituency is faced with starvation because the baboons destroyed their fields, buses leave at dawn disadvantaging commuters who would want to take their produce to Mbare, free seed and fertilizer did not reach their people last season.” Expect virtually nothing from this house.