By Kudzai Kuwaza
AS the fallout from government’s decision to handpick labour lawyer Rodgers Matsikidze to draft proposed amendments to the Labour Act continues, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions has contracted a retired judge to draft its own amendments to the Act, businessdigest has established.
Matsikidze presented the proposed changes to the business sector last week based on the 13 principles agreed by the three social partners, namely business, labour and government at the Tripartite Negotiating Forum.
ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo told businessdigest this week that the labour movement was opposed to the amendments proposed by Matsikidze as they did not capture the agreed 13 principles.
“The draft by Matsikidze does not reflect what we agreed at the TNF. He has gone on to change the whole document,” Moyo charged. “What he did is just like a plumber who has been called to plug a hole where water is leaking and ends up bringing down the roof of the house.”
Moyo said they had also written to the International Labour Organisation to advise them that they had not been consulted on the choice of Matsikidze whom the ILO had paid to draft amendments to the Labour Act. The letter, Moyo said, was copied to both the ministry of Labour and the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe.
The ZCTU secretary-general said they contracted an experienced retired judge to come up with their own draft which they will present to the TNF.
However, he refused to disclose the name of the judge they have tasked with coming up with their own draft, saying it would be premature to do so.
“We have reached an agreement with the retired judge to come up with a draft of the Labour Act guided by the 13 principles,” Moyo said. “We expect him to come up with the draft by the end of April.”
Matsikidze said what he had done was turn the agreed 13 principles into legalese.
“Those not happy with the zero draft should point out where they disagree and they should also point out which of the 13 principles were not captured in the document,” Matsikidze said.
He said it would be easy to draft something that employers would like or something that employees will be happy with but it would not be the product of compromise among the three social partners which it is supposed to be.
The bill, among other issues, proposes that if there is a dispute over retrenchment between an employer and affected employees, then both parties will be given 30 days to resolve their differences. Should the two parties fail then the issue will be taken to the retrenchment board which must come up with a resolution within 30 days. During this period, the draft bill states, the retrenched workers will remain employed at the company until the board makes a determination.
In the case where a company makes an application to the board to be exempted from the retrenchment package of two weeks’ pay for every year served, the bill proposes that the board be given 30 days to come up with a response. The bill further proposes that employers should file an urgent application before the Labour Court if the board fails to respond within the given 30-day period.