via New labour law disastrous – CFU – NewsDay Zimbabwe September 2, 2015
ZIMBABWE’s amended labour legislation, signed into law by President Robert Mugabe last week, spells doom for the country’s moribund economy, the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) has warned.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
In an internal memorandum to members seen by NewsDay, CFU deputy director, Marc Carrie-Wilson said the changes to the Labour Act will make disciplinary hearings and fixed term contracts “superfluous”.
“I feel that now that the law has been officially changed I need to do a more thorough job of depressing you. Be warned you should sit down when you read this and I wouldn’t let your workers or any trade unions read it either! It is for the employers’ eyes only,” Carrie-Wilson said.
Carrie-Wilson said this was a “fairer position, but . . . However, what is worrying and extremely disastrous for employers and Zimbabwe’s economy is that this minimum retrenchment package seems to be extended in a new section to those employees whose contracts ended by dismissal (firing), or because the fixed term/task contract has expired or by mutual agreement.”
Mugabe two weeks ago recalled Parliament in the aftermath of the July 17 Supreme Court judgment that caused over 25 000 job losses within a month, and stampeded legislators to amend the law before he appended his signature to it. The new law now has an amended Section 12C containing a provision for a minimum retrenchment package of two weeks’ salary for every year worked.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) spokesperson Wonder Chabikwa, declined to comment on the matter, referring questions to the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz).
“We are part of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum and our views have been captured by Emcoz, who are the voice of business on the matter. They are better placed to comment,” Chabikwa said.
Emcoz has been very critical of a retrospective clause in the amended law that forces employers to pay workers fired under the Supreme Court judgment.
Carrie-Wilson added: “The section potentially renders disciplinary hearings completely superfluous because employers will have to pay up the package, whether an employee is retrenched or fired so why bother with a time consuming and stressful disciplinary process,” he said, adding the changes will also force employers to pay temporary and permanent workers the same packages.
He said the changes made to the law would need a “brave employer” to challenge them in the courts to see if a new interpretation can be produced.
“The expiry of a fixed term contract is not ‘termination on notice’ as inherently no notice is required in a fixed term contract situation. From the outset both parties know that the employment contract is for a limited term. There is no sudden loss of employment for which an employee need be compensated.
“Given what I have just written I almost don’t need to bother telling you anymore, but I will go through the motions. So the new law seeks to limit the number of times an employer can roll over a fixed term contract by giving the parties the power to negotiate this at the NEC (National Employment Council) level”.