New Zimbabwe (London)

3 May 2014

Zimbabwe: ZCTU Threatens Govt ILO Showdown

THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) Thursday threatened to drag the Zanu PF government to the International Labour Court if it insists on changing labour laws in ways that "will result in the suffering of the country's struggling workforce".

Addressing hundreds of workers that converged at Gwanzura stadium in Highfield to commemorate May Day the ZCTU president George Nkiwane said the labour body was deeply concerned that the Zanu PF government has decided to go ahead with its decision to review the Labour Act despite "our objections to the move".

"We reiterate that we will use all the energy we have to resist changes to the labour law that have adverse effects on the workers, even if it means going into the streets to protect workers and taking up the issue with the International Labour Organisation (ILO)."

Nkiwane said the government's move comes just months after Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, announced in his 2014 budget that "it is necessary to introduce in our labour laws flexibility in the hiring of workers, as well as alignment of wage adjustment to labour flexibility."

He said the Minister wanted employers to pay poor wages as well as allow them to hire and fire without any hindrances.

"The Minister claimed in his budget statement that the labour laws in this country were 'skewed in favour of employees' and this contributed to company closures," Nkiwane said.

He added: "In his latest move, Chinamasa said labour laws must be reviewed to remove constraints that relate to retrenchments, terminal benefits, procedures for dismissals, downsizing, working hours and the arbitration awards system.

"What is more shocking is that no consultations have been made with other stakeholders, contrary to the spirit of tripartism and international labour standards conventions on social dialogue."

The president of the labour movement said such statements coming from a Zanu PF government are "shocking as it claims to be pro poor and pro workers".

He said the government claimed in its elections manifesto that it would work towards creating two million jobs, "but instead of protecting the few jobs that are there, it appears the party is now at the forefront of destroying the few remaining jobs."

The May Day was commemorated under the theme Workers Intensify the Struggle! No to labour market flexibility.

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