By Alois Vinga
ZIMBABWE must urgently prioritise resilient social dialogue to counter threats that lie ahead in embracing the impending fourth industrial revolution which is set to introduce advanced technology, business and workers groups have said.
Speaking during a two-day national labour symposium on the future of work, representatives from the Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ), Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions, emphasised the need use the Tripartite Negotiation Forum (TNF) in crafting a resilient social contract.
ZFTU general secretary, Kenias Shamhuyarira predicted it will be difficult for Zimbabwe to move on with other nations into the fourth industrial revolution because of the current overwhelming economic problems.
Said Shamhuyarira, “For us to talk about the future, we must talk about the past which has been unfortunately bleak hence the big question is what do we do now with the type of leadership we have in the country?
“This country is not owed to one person’s mother but is owed to everyone. The problems bedevilling the country’s workers are being caused by a few individuals who are continuously muzzling us out, including employers who are connected to few politicians.”
He said politics in the long term does not sustain an economy hence the need to be simple and clear.
Added Shamhuyarira, “Even as we prepare for the fourth industrial revolution, we need a situation whereby government must urgently work towards retooling industry as well as making sure that resources which lift the country’s economy are well funded.”
Speaking at the same occasion, EMCOZ executive director, Nester Mukweva said the future of work discourse is important because of the impending technology’s transformation.
“Critical questions on whether employers and employees going to be organised as they are today. This simply calls for the need to craft a resilient social dialogue through the TNF because the fourth industrial revolution is coming against a background where there is high unemployment, low productivity and power outages,” he said.
ZCTU secretary general, Japhet Moyo said industrial revolutions are inevitable as businesses try to improve productivity and enhance profits.
He said unfortunately, the revolutions are coming with far reaching changes to patterns and nature of production.
Said Moyo, “Employment relationships are bound to change when new forms of production are introduced. These changes have the effect of changing how Trade Unions operate so what is needed is to be alive of what lays ahead so that we adjust and try to mitigate the shifting and changing terrain.”
While previous industrial revolutions liberated humankind from animal power, made mass production possible and brought digital capabilities to billions of people.
The forthcoming Fourth Industrial Revolution is, however, fundamentally different as It is characterised by a range of new technologies impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.
However, experts fear organisations might be unable to adapt; governments could fail to employ and regulate new technologies to capture their benefits; shifting power will create important new security concerns; inequality may grow; and societies fragment.