Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
THE Labour Amendment Bill, which seeks to promote rights to fair and safe labour practices and standards, is now in Parliament having gone through the Second Reading amid hopes it will become law.
Its crafting started a few years ago as social partners in the labour sector including Government sought to refine the Labour Laws following the Zuva judgement, which opened floodgates for massive termination of contracts on a three-month’s notice by different companies.
The new Bill was gazetted last year and will amend the Labour Act (Chapter 28:01) by aligning it with Section 65 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions ratified by Zimbabwe.
It will also promote ease of doing business principles through streamlining and promoting timely conclusion of labour dispute resolution, settlement and retrenchment processes. The new Bill also takes care of emerging issues in the world of work such as labour broking, violence and harassment at the work place and emerging forms of employment relationships, maternity and paternity leave among others, with a view to closing the gap in the existing legislation, thus entrenching fair labour standards expected in Section 65 of the Constitution.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister, Professor Paul Mavima, told delegates at the Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ) 40th annual congress here last week that engaging with the business fraternity and other stakeholders was critical for economic transformation.
“As Government, we take note of the concerns of stakeholders that often stem from a lack of appreciation of Government’s intentions in instituting some of the policy interventions aimed at stabilising the macro-economic environment in line with the goals of the NDS1,” he said.
“Regarding labour laws as you may be aware, the Labour Amendment Bill is now before Parliament as we seek to enhance the progressive reforms introduced in Labour Amendment Act No 5, passed in August 2015.”
Prof Mavima said the proposed reforms are meant to streamline the dispute settlement system by clearly setting out the powers, roles and jurisdiction of conciliators.
The operations of arbitrators in terms of their powers and the timeframes within which they must conclude matters brought to them, are also being provided for.
“We will endeavour to put more effort in inclusive approach and enhanced consultations in all initiatives including policy pronouncements.
“It’s important to note that though Government is fully committed to fulfilling its obligations to social partners, reality dictates that it has to also consider the interests of other social groups outside the tripartite in line with the thrust of not leaving anyone behind,” said Prof Mavima.
Earlier Public Service Permanent Secretary, Mr Simon Masanga, said the stage at which the Bill is now is exciting given that the crafting had taken long.
“The process is now slowly coming to conclusion because the Bill is now in Parliament and it has gone past the Second Reading. I am sure in the next sitting of Parliament the Bill will become an Act of Parliament,” he said.
Representatives from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and leaders of organised labour bodies attended the meeting under the theme: “Social Dialogue for New Paradigm Shift for Economic and Social Transformation”. — @ncubeleon.