By Alois Vinga
THE country’s main labour federations Thursday snubbed a Tripartite Negotiation Forum (TNF) meeting called by Labour Minister Paul Mavima in protest over government’s attempt to avoid a discussion on the current eroded workers’ salaries.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), civil servants’ representative Apex Council and the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) set aside their ideological differences and joined hands in a “rare marriage” to pile pressure on the government to improve workers’ salaries.
Speaking to NewZimbabwe.com, ZCTU president Peter Mutasa slammed Mavima for avoiding the critical issue of poor salaries currently being offered to workers.
“As organised labour in the TNF that comprises ZCTU, ZFTU and Apex Council, we did not attend today’s (Thursday) TNF which was called by the Minister of Public Service Labour,” he said.
“Our collective position is that the forum must first tackle and find a permanent solution on the issue of eroded salaries due to a raft of anti-people policies implemented by the government. So the main labour organs will not go to TNF unless this sticking issue is finalised.”
Mutasa added during a meeting held on October 21 2020, the three labour unions insisted on discussing the salary agenda first alongside the working conditions of all workers, which he described as worse than before, but the minister did not treat the matter with urgency.
“Almost all workers are now enslaved, literally working for nothing. So we remain in TNF but have put forward our clear demands to the government and employers based on the mandate from workers. Unless it’s a special meeting to discuss erosion of salaries, all other discussions remain useless.”
In an invitation from Mavima dated December 9 2020 to the labour federations, TNF partners were invited for a meeting to finalise discussions not exhausted in the previous engagements.
“I am inviting you to the main TNF Meeting on Thursday 17 December 2020, Rainbow Towers at 09:00 hrs to discuss the outstanding critical issues mandated to the technical committee. The meeting will also get feedback on the issue referred to the cabinet,” reads the letter in part.
The proposed agenda included the operationalisation of the TNF, labour law reform, cabinet decisions on employment issues.
However, the issue on salary erosion was missing on the agenda.