Employers Protest Against Labour Act, Want Amendments

Employers Protest Against Labour Act, Want Amendments
Published: 2016 June 08 06:04:19 (1909 Views)
Employers say they do not want to pay retrenchment packages when they lay off employees because workers have other benefits that they are entitled to such as pensions and gratuities.

The Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMOZ) wants the Labour Amendment Act that was passed into law last year to be further amended and remove the provision where employers have to pay retrenchment packages.

EMOZ representatives appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare on Monday where they ravaged the Labour Amendment Act for seeking to protect the rights of workers while “ignoring the rights of employers”.

EMCOZ senior vice president Callisto Jokonya said they were challenging the constitutionality of the Labour Amendment Act in the courts for providing that employers must pay retrenchment packages to employees whose contracts were terminated at the rate of two weeks’ salary for every year served.

He said they were particularly miffed by the Act’s provision that those whose contracts were terminated as a result of the Supreme Court judgement must be paid their retrenchment packages retrospectively.

“The most difficult law that we have in this country is the labour law,” said Mr Jokonya.

“To me, it encourages laziness, it moves away accountability and it penalises the company or the investor. If an employee is no longer performing and delivering the results, the best is that we disagree and part ways.

“There are areas which as investors (business), we totally disagree and that is retrenchment. I don’t understand where it comes from. When I employ you, we agree on the terms of the job. We never agree on the terms of retrenchment. That is not part of it.”

Mr Jokonya said demanding that employers pay retrenchment was going outside the contract and making it difficult for business to survive.

He said there was no reason to pay retrenchment packages since employees were already entitled to other benefits.

“In our Labour Act and National Employment Council arrangements, we have already established gratuities and we have pension schemes that are already there.

“An investor is already contributing and putting figures aside for your retirement and even if you choose to leave employment today, your pension leaves with you.

“Then one will say pay retrenchment for services not rendered, that is an abuse of someone’s rights.

“And why would I want to come and invest in that situation. Why would I make you permanent? The reason people are not made permanent is because we have had enough headaches of trying to lay off employees that are refusing to work and that are not obedient to the laws.

“When an investor decides to close the company, it means he has lost his investment. And when you say you want me to pay you retrenchment when I have already lost my investment, I find it absurd and doesn’t take into account the rights of the investor.

“In other words, I am being penalised to pay you for what I am not supposed to have done.”

He said the issue of retrenchment was a bone of contention at the Tripartite Negotiating Forum between business and labour with two arms having entrenched positions.

Mr Jokonya said it was highly unlikely that they would reach a consensus on the matter.

“There are only about five countries in Africa that are doing that (paying retrenchment). But the rest are not doing it. The whole world doesn’t talk about retrenchment anymore. Its goodbye.

“The Americans, who drive the International Labour Organisation are not members of the ILO because they realised it affects the economy and they will not allow it,” said Mr Jokonya.

But appearing before the same committee earlier on, representatives from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions wanted retrenchment packages to be reviewed upwards to protect workers.

They said the majority of workers were being paid an average salary of about $250 per month meaning that they would get retrenchment packages of about $125 for every year served which was not sufficient to cater for their needs.

- Herald

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