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Process and position concerning Labour Amendment Bill; HB 1/2005
Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare
Extracted from The Herald
August 04, 2005

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) flighted an advertisement in The Standard of 24th July, 2005 entitled "ZCTU's position on Labour Amendment Bill" HB 1/2005.

Over and above simply restating certain clauses in the Bill, ZCTU expressed "shock and disappointment to a number of the provisions in the Labour Amendment HB 1/2005 because there was no consultation and the Amendment had already gone through its first reading in Parliament …"

Whereas it is true that HB 1/2005 has gone through the first reading in Parliament, it is factual misrepresentation to say there was no consultation in coming up with HB 1/2005.

ZCTU itself as a social partner, in a communication dated 26th May, 2004 and signed by its Secretary General submitted to the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare its proposals to be considered for inclusion in amending the Labour Act. These submissions were at the instance of the Ministry.

Other social partners which forwarded inputs on request were the Public Service Commission, the Public Service Association, the Apex Council, the Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions.

HB 1/2005 was founded upon contribution from all these Social partners.

To say ZCTU was not consulted or that there were no consultants at all, whether with respect to the whole Bill or certain of its provisions is misleading.

Stakeholders made contributions in respect of provisions which touched on their interests.
ZCTU is not the exclusive labour voice nor is it the only other partner.

Positions of employers and other social partners had to be taken on board as well. The legislation process in the circumstances is a balancing Act.

Without going into specifics suffice it to say the current Labour Act does not bar civil servants from collective bargaining.

Nor does the intended housing of civil servants specifically and particularly under the Public Service Act bar civil servants from Collective Bargaining as envisaged in ILO Conventions. The placing of Civil Servants under the Public Service Act is in accordance with the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which is the Supreme Law in the Country.

Further ZCTU unjustifiably misleads the reading public by alleging that Government committed itself "to look into the Constitutional Amendment and consider the application of the Labour Act in the Prison Service …" at the 2004 ILO Conference.

All Government stated at the ILO 2004 was that having the Prison Service included in the application of the Labour Act was a Constitutional Question, which was beyond the scope of the Ministry of Labour alone. The Ministry of Labour has no capacity to singularly effect Constitutional Amendments as it may with respect to the Labour Act or other Acts under its mandate.

No such assurances were therefore given by this Ministry.

It is worth to note that the ZCTU repeated this falsehood at the 2005 93rd Session of the ILO in June.
HB 1/ 2005 was a product of a Consultative process with the social partners. There was no obligation however to take on board positions which ran contrary to National Policy or which unduly trampled on the rights and interests of other social partners.

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