BY ADMORE MARAMBANYIKA
The ZCTU has attacked government for interfering in collective bargaining processes at industrial level in violation of provisions of the Labour Act and international labour conventions.
Reacting to a directive by the Office of the President barring the People’s Own Savings Bank (POSB) from fully implementing a collective bargaining agreement reached by the National Employment Council (NEC) for the Banking sector; ZCTU said government must respect and uphold labour agreements.
POSB approached the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) seeking exemption from paying 50 percent of salaries in US$ as agreed at the NEC. In response to the directive issued to the Permanent Secretary for Finance and Economic Development, George Guvamatanga by the Head of the Corporate Governance Unit in the OPC, Allen Choruma refused to allow POSB to pay 50% of the salaries in US$ but 40% as per government directive under CGU Circular 4/2023.
In a statement; ZCTU Secretary General Japhet Moyo said while the statement by OPC to Guvamatanga may be correct in terms of Public Service Entities, it was a clear violation of rights enshrined in International Instruments which Zimbabwe is party to and has ratified.
“POSB is part of the NEC for the Banking Undertaking and its workers are entitled to benefit from the Collective Bargaining Agreements as signed and Approved by the Minister in terms of NEC Agreements. Zimbabwe ratified the ILO Convention 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining and thus has an obligation to put laws that align to the Convention 98 which was ratified,” said Moyo.
He said the prohibition in the CGU Circular 4 /2023 as cited in the government correspondence to Guvamatanga was a clear violation of POSB Workers’ Right to Freedom of Association in terms of ILO Conventions 87 and 98 which are both Fundamental Core Conventions of the ILO that are legally binding and thus Member States are obliged to enforce whether ratified or not.
The ZCTU said the directive was an assault on collective bargaining in its entirety and this should not be allowed in any sector, be it state entities or private sector.
“It is the ZCTU view that the government should not come up with polices or laws that limit enterprises to pay as such as they are able to. If enterprises are able to pay 100 percent USD, they should be allowed to do so. The denial of workers to enjoy negotiated Wages and Salaries is tantamount to violation of their right to Collective Bargaining, Freedom of Association and above all the Right to Decent Work and Decent Life to which Zimbabwe ascribes to. As a matter of fact, Zimbabwe was one of the first African country to formulate a Decent Work Country Programme. We demand the full protection of all workers in this regard,” said Moyo.
“POSB is part of the NEC for the Banking Undertaking and its workers are entitled to benefit from the Collective Bargaining Agreements as signed and Approved by the Minister in terms of NEC Agreements. The National Employment Council for the Banking Undertaking is a legal entity enshrined in the Labour Act Chapter 28.01 and by being party to that NEC POSB is bound by the provisions of the Labour Act. Furthermore, Employees of POSB are covered and protected by the Labour Act and therefore cannot be an exception from enjoying the benefits and rights as Bargained at the NEC,” he said.
Moyo added that government could not invoke ‘limitation of rights’ on collective bargaining issues because the Constitution of Zimbabwe Part 5 Clause 86 which speaks to limitation of rights and clearly outlines purpose of limitation which includes criminal offences.
“The Clause 86 (3) outlines rights which cannot be limited under whatever situation and these include on 86 (3b) “The Right to Human dignity”. It is our position as a worker’s organization that the Decent Work Agenda’s primary objective is to accord Human Dignity to workers and a decent salary is part and parcel of ensuring the dignity for a worker,” said Moyo.