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LOCKDOWN: No to forced unpaid leave, Govt

by Staff reporter
01 May 2020 at 14:10hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT has said it is illegal to force workers to go on unpaid leave during the Covid-19 lockdown down period, any consideration of such should be through collective bargaining and also subject to agreement with the concerned workers.

The statement comes as Zimbabwe today joins the rest of the World in commemorating the Workers Day.

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima said any measures contrary to the agreed terms of employment should be mutually agreed.

"There should be no unlawful terminations or procedural retrenchments during the lockdown period. My ministry stands to provide technical advice on issues regarding workplaces measures to cope with Covid-19," Minister Mavima emphasised.

The Ministry, Minister Mavima said has dispatched officers to upscale joint inspections across the country with representatives of the workers and employers to ensure that fair labour standards are observed during the lockdown and that general compliance to Covid-19 measures are adhered to at all workplaces operating during the lockdown.

"We welcome information from stakeholders on specific establishments, sectors and issues that our inspectorate should focus on as they perform their duties. The stakeholders have a role to perform by being ears and eyes of our inspectorate and will respond swiftly to any such reports. I also expect my officers to execute their duties professionally, any acts of corruption must be reported for the law to take its course," expressed the Minister.

In addition, he said: let us point out that Works Council and the National Employment Councils (NEC) remain effective engagement platforms for workers and employers to engage and agree on measures that take into consideration respective peculiarities of establishments and NECc as we craft work place measures to mitigate the effects of Covid-19. We should in these engagements, keep at the back of our minds the dictates of fundamental principles and rights at the work place as enshrined in our Labour Act (28:01) as they are sacrosanct and should be respected at all times''.

The Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF), he said is expected to engage and review the situation regarding the period of May 2020 and beyond as the Covid-19 situation evolves.

It is very clear that the Covid-19 pandemic has challenged us to reflect on our work practices as the need to embrace new forms of work that allow workers to work from home and away from the employer's premises. Indeed, we need to engage in conversation to ensure that we are ready for the future of work and the demands of the 4th Industrial Revolution," revealed the minister.

He however, noted that industrial performance in the country has remained depressed.

This year's commemorations come as the world is fighting the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the SADC Community joins the rest of the world in celebrating the worker's day.

In a statement, Southern African regional body said on May 1, the international community commemorates international Workers' Day to recognise the importance and contribution of workers in development, and to promote workers' rights.

"This year, we celebrate the International Workers Day under unusual and extremely difficult circumstances due to the challenges and hardships emanating from Covid-19 pandemic which has led to unprecedented loss of jobs and livelihoods. The international Labour Organisation has so far estimated that up to 25 million jobs will be lost globally, as a result of the extreme measures, but necessary in containing the spread of Covid-19," reads the statement.

Sadc calls Governments working with other stakeholders including the private sector and civil societies to continue strengthening health systems and to guarantee the provision of safe and health working conditions for those on the frontline.

SADC is confident that member states will continue to implement Covid-19 response measures that will protect the labour markets, jobs and incomes, support vulnerable workers in the informal economy and facilitate the economic recovery and social economic stability.

Source - the herald