Local workers and foreign employers in labour wars
2012 April 08 12:43:50 | 2755 Views
- Ingabe ikuphatheleni i-MDC, njalo kusizani ukuyivotela? | 2013 May 13 17:03:55 | 3059 views
- Ikuphatheleni iMDC, kusiza ngani ukuyivotela? | 2013 May 08 19:28:47 | 2854 views
- MDC-T on course | 2013 March 27 14:05:12 | 6759 views
- People will vote for a party with sustainable economic programmes | 2013 March 04 02:36:52 | 7564 views
- Introducing: Election (2013) campaign articles | 2013 March 02 11:08:41 | 6114 views
- Kasukuwere denies Zimbabwe indigenisation policy changes | 2013 April 24 16:02:19 | 9309 views
- Banks gang up against EcoCash | 2013 February 04 09:50:06 | 9184 views
- DHL workers panic | 2013 February 08 18:14:00 | 7180 views
- Mangoma steps down as M&R CEO to join Zimplats | 2013 January 24 16:04:34 | 6931 views
- Gono warns about SA imports | 2013 February 06 21:32:00 | 6762 views
Businesses owned by Nigerians, Indians and Chinese nationals are common in a country grappling with high levels of unemployment.
However, this "invasion" by foreign employers has coincided with an increase in the number of labour disputes.
The Labour Court continues to be inundated with such disputes, pitting Zimbabwean workers against their foreign employers.
Eyebrows have already been raised over the operations of foreign business-people with observers expressing fear that some of them are slowly entrenching poor labour practices locally.
Labour expert Mr Langton Chisamba bemoaned the state of affairs and urged Government to act swiftly.
"The state of labour relations in Zimbabwe is appalling," he said.
"Foreigners have, of late, gained notoriety for the way they interact with their employees. We have recorded countless cases of unfair dismissals.
"There is need to re-evaluate the way worker-employer relations are governed because it seems the enabling statutory regulations are lagging behind in a fast- changing environment.
"In times like these, when things are changing for the worst, almost on a daily basis, there is need for central Government to step in."
Of concern has been the eagerness by some local business-people to pay their employees low salaries despite making huge profits.
Tied to poor remuneration are long working hours and deplorable working conditions.
Factory workers are, in some instances, not provided with protective wear such as overalls, gloves and industrial boots.
Of concern to many is the ill-treatment of the workers.
Workers who spoke to The Sunday Mail In-Depth said they do not receive basic employment benefits such as medical aid, pension and leave days.
Agitation for trade unionism within some of the companies is usually met with summary dismissal.
Last year, Mr Evans Muchererwa (25), a former worker at a Chinese-owned construction company, was summarily dismissed after an altercation with his immediate boss.
He was accused of stealing a spade.
He was then involved in a physical fight with his employer, which resulted in him being hospitalised.
The Labour Relations Act, which governs employee-employer relations provides for the protection of workers' rights.
It also provides for workers' right to strike while guaranteeing fairness at the work place.
The Act also provides for employees' entitlement to membership of trade unions and workers' committees while prohibiting forced labour.
Labour lawyer Mr Felix Antonio of Antonio and Associates said most local workers are not aware of their rights.
He said the Labour Act seeks to create harmony between the operations of the employer and employee.
"The labour laws in Zimbabwe do not change whether the employer is of foreign origin or not," he said.
"The same laws and regulations apply to every employer. In the event of a dispute between an employer and employee, the issue should be taken up by the particular
industry's national employment council (NEC).
"If the NEC fails to deal with the case to the satisfaction of both parties, then the dispute will have to be taken to the Labour Court which will be guided by the Labour Relations
Act in coming up with a determination.
"However, in my view, many local employees are not aware of their rights, leading to their subsequent abuse by employers."
Mr Lin Wang, a Chinese business-man who runs a clothing and household electrical appliances shop in central Harare said the Chinese had a history of respecting other people's self esteem and dignity.
He said cases of abuse of workers were very few and far between.
"The cases of abuse that are being reported are very few and there is no need for an uproar over these cases," he said.
"As Chinese people, we are taught the importance of respecting other people's rights and dignity wherever we go.
"However, it should not be forgotten that we are in business to make money and not to make friends."
In today's viciously competitive business environment, a good number of companies seems to be failing to strike a balance between catering for the worker and ensuring business viability.
Business contends that under the obtaining economic conditions, firms cannot guarantee absolute compliance with the governing laws.
The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has been at the forefront of calling for the amendment of the Labour Relations Act.
Commenting ahead of the finalisation of the consolidated Zimbabwe Law Reform Proposals, CZI president Dr Joseph Kanyekanye said the existing law is not friendly to business operations.
"We feel that the Labour Relations Act is not business friendly as it borrows more from concepts of the developed world. Industry is still in the process of recovery, hence, any labour reform should be reflective of the obtaining operating environment," he said.
Labour unions have, however, been conspicuous by their inability to voice their disapproval of the apparent labour violations in the country.
Some say they have lost the plot in representing the interests of the worker.
Analysts have accused the main trade unions of playing politics at the expense of their constituency.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Mr George Nkiwane said the abuse of local workers is rife in sectors such as construction and mining.
"We have received reports, especially involving Chinese-owned companies in the mining and construction sectors," he said.
"When abuse of workers takes place whether at local or foreign-owned companies, we refer the victims to their affiliate unions. For instance, if the dispute takes place in the mining sector, we refer the workers to our affiliates in the mining sector for resolution.
"All companies and their workers in Zimbabwe, except civil servants, operate under the same labour laws. There should be no favouritism or preferential treatment on account of a person's race or nationality.
"It is a sad that most workers are unaware of their rights."
Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions president Mr Jacob Gwavava said foreign employers are firing workers involved in trade unionism.
He said both foreigners and locals are guilty of abusing workers.
"We have dealt with complaints emanating from both local and foreign-owned companies," he said.
"However, the worst cases are from the foreign companies especially those from Asia.
"We have also had problems when cases involving foreigners are brought to us for arbitration. In many cases, the perpetrators pretend as if they cannot understand English.
"Some employers are also firing their workers for being members of a trade union."
AFP | 2013 May 23 | 395 Views
Staff reporter | 2013 May 23 | 875 Views
Staff reporter | 2013 May 23 | 1053 Views
Staff reporter | 2013 May 23 | 1143 Views
Staff reporter | 2013 May 23 | 933 Views
Staff reporter | 2013 May 23 | 960 Views
Staff Reporter | 2013 May 23 | 533 Views
Staff reporter | 2013 May 23 | 1621 Views
Gordon Rayner and Steven Swinford | 2013 May 23 | 849 Views
Liberty Dube | 2013 May 23 | 1475 Views
Staff reporter | 2013 May 23 | 1131 Views
Staff reporter | 2013 May 23 | 1688 Views
Staff reporter | 2013 May 23 | 1562 Views
Daily Graphic | 2013 May 23 | 1233 Views
Staff reporter | 2013 May 23 | 1468 Views
Sunday World | 2013 May 23 | 1986 Views
Staff reporter | 2013 May 23 | 1400 Views
Robert Mugabe | 2013 May 23 | 958 Views
Staff reporter | 2013 May 23 | 1110 Views
Court reporter | 2013 May 23 | 1009 Views
Sports reporter | 2013 May 23 | 1907 Views
Pauline Mhuka | 2013 May 23 | 857 Views
Staff reporter | 2013 May 23 | 806 Views
Staff reporter | 2013 May 23 | 831 Views
Blessing Ivan Vava | 2013 May 21 | 1669 Views
Staff reporter | 2013 May 21 | 4437 Views
Moyo Roy | 2013 May 20 | 5452 Views
TMZ | 2013 May 20 | 2288 Views
Emmanuel Ndlovu | 2013 May 18 | 2241 Views
Arts reporter | 2013 May 17 | 2130 Views
Entertainment Correspondent | 2013 May 17 | 2980 Views
Moyo Roy | 2013 May 16 | 2302 Views
Vasco Shaya | 2013 May 16 | 4387 Views