Labour Bill should comply with ILO Conventions – ZCTU

Chris Mahove

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) says while it notes progressive provisions in the Labour Amendment Bill, it is worried about the failure by the proposed law to comply with provisions of ILO Conventions 87 and 98.

Acting ZCTU Secretary General, Runesu Dzimiri, said according to the ZCTU analysis, the proposed Bill should use the principles to amend the Labour Act which were adopted by the social partners in the Tripartite Negotiation Forum (TNF) between 2016 and 2019 as its benchmark.

“We noted some progressive provisions in the current draft of 2021 and commend government for taking such steps to respect the TNF decisions. These include the protection of employees against gender-based violence, protection of employees from termination under common law (notice) protection of employees during retrenchment save for the minimum package, protection of casual employees against indefinite Casualization, labour broking, Maternity protection etc.

“However, the analysis notes with grave concern the serious failure to comply with ILO Conventions 87 and C98. Of concern is the criminalization of the right to strike and Ministerial powers that interfere with trade unions and employers’ organizations’ rights despite parties having agreed to streamline such powers to comply with relevant conventions. Convention 87 and 98 have been of great concern for decades culminating to the investigation of Zimbabwe by the ILO Commission of Inquiry in 2009,” he said.

He said the draft had not given effect to most of the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry, saying while the 2019 draft had attempted to address the concerns, there had been a shift away from compliance, with the Labour Court continuing to be undermined by being denied the power to enforce its decisions.

Dzimiri said the labour body was also not happy with the Clause 18 on the Duty to provide information to the Registrar of Trade Unions.

“We Disagree with the section as it provides with too much interference on trade union or employer organizations operations by the Minister in violation of C087 on Freedom of Association and the Right to organise,” he said.

Dzimiri further noted that the repeal and insertion on Clause 19 to amend section 45 on Variations, suspension or rescission of registration of trade unions and employers’ organizations only removed the word ‘registration’ but did not cure the mischief of infringement of a trade union or employers’ organization’s right to freedom of association.

“The requirement to consider the representations of multiple stakeholders like any member of the public is too wide and may results in infringement. See ILO CFA ‘The Committee further considers that section 45 of the Labour Act will appear to hinder the registration of a new organization if another registered organization already exists in a specific enterprise or occupation. It recalls in this respect that a provision authorizing the refusal of an application for registration if another union, already registered, is sufficiently representative of the interests which the union seeking registration proposes to defend, means that, in certain cases, workers may be denied the right to join the organization of their own choice, contrary to the principles of freedom of association,” he said

The Labour body raised several other clauses which they wanted removed or modified before the Bill could be passed into law.

The Labour Amendment draft bill seeks to align the Labour Act Chapter 28:01 with the Zimbabwe Constitution and international labour standards which were ratified by Zimbabwe.

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