via New labour law Rhodes’s Ghost: Gwisai – New Zimbabwe 18/08/2015
FORMER MDC legislator Munyaradzi Gwisai’s Labour Centre has said Zimbabweans should “strongly” resist the labour amendment bill currently before Parliament.
The bill, the organisation argues, is a resurrection of “Cecil John Rhodes” which will result in “tens of thousands more losing jobs”.
President Robert Mugabe last week signed and gazzetted the labour amendment bill which protects workers from unfair dismissals and retrenchments.
That was after over 20,000 workers had been dismissed by their employers using the July 17 Supreme Court labour Judgment which permitted the sacking of employees on three months’ notice.
The proposed bill says employers should negotiate with employees when they want to retrench them.
It however, says a retrenched worker is entitled to a compensation equivalent to a salary of two weeks for each year served.
In a statement Tuesday, the Labour Centre said the bill was set to bring back colonialism in the country.
“The Bill was hijacked by those with an opposite and IMF-inspired neo-liberal and anti-nationalist agenda.
“They successfully manipulated it to ensure that employers can now massacre even tens of thousands of more jobs and resurrect the ghost of common law and Cecil John Rhodes,” said the labour representative body.
The Gwisai-led outfit accused government officials of deceiving the nation pretending that they have intervened in the merciless job cuts.
“They are clever and have disguised their real intentions in the manner in which they have crafted and worded the Bill,” the organisation said.
“Here and there, they give a few sweets including a very watered down retrospective clause, to make it appear as if the Bill protects and benefits workers. But they know the real effect of their Bill is the opposite.
“This is why we say the Labour Amendment Bill, 2015, should not be passed in its present form. It is premature to celebrate such a potentially dangerous anti-people Bill.”
The proposals were also condemned by top Harare lawyer and opposition politician Tendai Biti who warned that they would “create chaos and confusion in the labour market and leave both employers and employees in a lurch”.
“As we have argued before, all normal economies function on the basis of maximum employment,” said Biti.
“That 91% of the working people of Zimbabwe are now in the informal sector scrounging out subsistence and survival is an indictment to Zanu PF.”
Biti said the solution to the country’s continued crisis of deindustrialisation “does not lie in tinkering with the labour law”.
“It lies in the pursuit of a democratic developmental model that creates full employment and equal opportunities to its citizens; one does not cure prostate cancer through the administration of pain killers; prostate cancer requires surgery.
“A closer reading of the amendments shows that the proposed situation is so horrendous such that for the majority of workers in Zimbabwe, are better off under the present chaotic labour statutes, where terminations of employment have been permitted by the challenged Supreme Court Judgement.”
The former finance minister also said giving the proposed changes retrospective application was a “disaster that looks as a potential of relief to the more than 25,000 on the face of it”.
“Constitutionalism and the rule of law stands, squarely against laws that apply retrospectively,” Biti explained.
“If Zanu PF get away with the precedent of retrospectively, they can wake up one day and retrospectively criminalize all those who voted for the MDC in 2008 by way of an absurd example.”