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May Day reflections

10 May 2016 at 20:15hrs | Views
If you can't help them, don't hurt them.It is a culmination of fundamental errors of omission and commission that the workers day has lost significance in Zimbabwe.

The government has failed to live  up to expectations in all respects and as if it's not enough it has proceeded to wantonly hurt the workers in the wake of the notorious Don Nyamande vs Zuva Petroleum Supreme Court Judgment. As if to add  salt to the injury the ruling resulted in massive retrenchments in a nation already burdened with ever spiralling levels of unemployment.

To bring some sanity to the labour market Labour Amendment Act No, 5 of 2015 was put in place setting of a minimum retrenchment package. However controversy surrounded the application of the law in retrospect to cater for those retrenched after the Supreme Court ruling and before the the Amendment Act No 5 of 2015. 

The ZIM-ASSET economic blueprint which seeks "to achieve sustainable development and  social equity anchored on indigenisation, empowerment and employment creation has died a natural death and that on its own is tacit affirmation of the abysmal failure of the much touted economic blueprint.

The relations among the members of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNT) have been adversarial from time immemorial and its time to close ranks for the sake of alleviating the plight of the workers.

Government has multi-faceted responsibilities in employment relations.It can work as a regulator, economic manager, abitrator, legislator and employer and this explains why all eyes will be on the government come workers day, to see how the government has fared in its multifaceted responsibilities. Some are tempted to oxonerate the government on the basis that its not the sole employer in the labour market. However such an argument is out of the kilter since the private sector can only chip in when the government has facilitated an enabling environment.They say high risk high returns but honestly no investor can risk investing in a country without policy clarity and homogeneity if Patrick Zhuwawo and Patric Chinamasa different interpretations of indigenisation are to go by. Such policy discord and lack of consensus at Cabinet level is scaring on the part of investors.

In the face of mounting economic woes companies have been pushed to the wall and now resort to "casualisation of labour". Casualisation of  labour is always a likely scenario in  a country experiencing economic upheaval, its roots in Zimbabwe can be traced back to the turbulent times of ESAP when companies demanded some form of labour-market flexibility. Labour-market flexibility gives employers the carte blanche to hire and fire workers willy-nilly hence it promotes unfair labour practices.

Casualisation of the workforce occurs whenever workers are employed in a casual, temporary, or otherwise non-  permanent and non-full-time capacity. Workers affected by casualisation of labour are often subject to lower pay, barred from their right to join a union, and denied medical and other benefits.

It never rains for the few Zimbabwean workers. Reflecting on Workers day, its also  necessary to note that the few employed Zimbabweans are living below the poverty datum line. They seek financial recoarse to micro-finance houses thereby living in perpetual debt. Its a case of living from hand to mouth.

The window of vulnerability has widened in the wake of new labour laws which promote unfair labour practices.The Bill of Rights clearly stipulates that all citizens have the freedom of expression, association but instead being  rights,they now appear like privileges. As a result of paranoia workers meetings and gatherings have been criminalised by the government.

It is a responsibility of every government to protect its people in different facets of life.It is in fact a constitutional mandate to be more precise and by people workers are no exception.Poignantly its now on the wall that our beloved government has chose to betray and neglect its workers.

The Zuva- Pretroleum Supreme Court ruling which gave employers the greenlight to dismiss workers within three months of notice was a   manifestation of bleak and gloomy future for the Zimbabwean worker.It was a triumph of capitalism over socialism,typical September/11 day on the hopes and aspirations  of the Zimbabwean worker.

A responsible government must not only create employment but also proceed to create a healthy employment relations and anything else will be gross incompetence if not dereliction of duty .Its disheartening to note that the Zimbabwean worker has been reduced to a sacrificial lamp of government's shortcomings.

The Zimbabwean government must discard its nonchalant approach and expedite the alignment of the Labour Act (Chapter 28:01) and other international labour conventions it ratified to the new Constitution.The Tripartite Negotiating Forum Act has to be operationalised.The same zeal and zest they displayed on national pledge is the same they have to apply to foster a healthy employment relations in the labour markert.

Wilton Nyasha Machimbira, a Political Scientist. For feedback and comments he can be contacted on wiltonnyash@gmail.com


Source - Wilton Nyasha Machimbira
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