Oliver Kazunga Senior Business Reporter
THE Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) has blasted trade unions for “inflating” the number of workers who lost their jobs on three months’ notice following the July 17, Supreme Court ruling.
Trade unions have reported that over 20,000 workers were sacked taking advantage of the Supreme Court judgment, which empowered employers to terminate employment contracts on three months’ notice.
“It’s our belief that the figures that came from trade unions to say that more than 20,000 workers have lost their jobs as a result of the July 17, Supreme Court ruling isn’t correct,” Emcoz president Joe Kahwema said.
“The figure that we’ve isn’t more than 5,000. For example, in the hospitality industry, we employ about 20,000 people but only 300 were affected.
“The figure was so inflated by the trade unions. The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Services then rushed to come up with the Labour Amendment Bill . . .”
He told Business Chronicle last Thursday the employers’ confederation had also asked the Institute of People Management of Zimbabwe members who manage the movement of labour to verify the 20,000 figure.
“We’ve also verified the figure with National Employment Councils,” added Kahwema.
In August, President Robert Mugabe signed into law the Labour Amendment Bill to repeal common law provisions that had been used by employers to fire workers on three months’ notice.
The law was fast-tracked through Parliament, sailing through both the National Assembly and the Senate within a week as the executive sought to end the trail of job losses.
Kahwema said in the event that some employers fail to pay the sacked workers their dues within the stipulated three months’ timeframe, the legal channel was there for all the social partners — the government, labour and business.
“The Bill is made up of 17 sub-sections and as employers we’re quite happy with 11 of those and the dispute is the one we’ve taken to Court for the government to review. We’ve done this mindful of the fact that some employers have gone ahead and paid workers’ dues as mandated in the Bill but some have failed to pay because they don’t have the money and most of those have taken their cases to the ministry for exemption as well as to their own lawyers to stay the execution,” said Kahwema.
He said a number of companies that terminated employment contracts on three months’ notice were failing to pay the redundant workers.
On the outlook, he said the economy remains subdued making it difficult for companies to pay workers their dues on time.
The government has projected that the economy will grow by 2.7 percent next year on the back of value addition and beneficiation-anchored production strategy focusing mainly on agriculture and mining.
2015 is expected to close at 1.5 percent GDP growth after being revised downwards from the initial 3.2 percent following a poor agricultural season due to drought.