ZCTU fights repressive Labour Draft Bill

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By Alois Vinga

ZIMBABWE Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has criticised clauses contained in the Labour Draft Bill over the failure to live up to international best practices on protection of workers’ rights.

The Bill which seeks to align the Labour Act with the constitution and international labour standards duly ratified is set to be debated nationwide through public consultations that will kick off on May 30.

A commentary published by the country’s most influential labour organ noted some progressive provisions in the current draft and commended the government for taking steps to respect Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) decisions.

These decisions include; protection of employees against gender-based violence, termination of employment under common law (notice), during retrenchment save for the minimum package, protection of casual employees against indefinite casualisation and labour broking among others.

However, the ZCTU has called for the repealing of forced labour clauses which state that a person may be required to work against his will for the mere reason that he is lawfully detained without a court sentence.

“This amounts to forced labour and the requirement that such work is permitted by other enactment which is unknown is too wide and subject to abuse. Only a court of law can determine the lawfulness of a detained person and convict,” said ZCTU.

The workers organ is also challenging Clause 4 section 5 of Cap of 28:01 on the protection of employees against discrimination to broaden it and include social origin, national extraction, direct and indirect discrimination.

They called for the repeal of the clause as it allows discrimination on political grounds.

The ZCTU is challenging the retaining of the minimum package as prescribed by the 2015 Amendment of “minimum retrenchment package” of one month’s wage for every two years served.

“The minimum package was imposed in 2015 and is retained without any justification and due to continuous erosion of wages. We propose that parties should agree on a realistic minimum package other than this plucked figure.

“We believe that this is regrettable as in many of the times this leaves employees at the mercy of the minimum retrenchment package even in circumstances where the employer can afford an enhanced package.

“We also propose that instead of 60 days the period by which a retrenchment package should have been paid be reduced to 30 days and there should be No Exemptions on payment of retrenchment packages,” the workers group said.

The ZCTU is demanding the right to Paternity leave, measures to ensure expeditious resolution of labour disputes and according the Labour Court powers to enforce its decisions on labour matters.

The workers’ organ is also demanding the regulation and control of labour broking, an end to casualisation of labour and the payment of salaries and wages in US$ and the protection from Arbitrary dismissals.