Retrenchment rules get thumbs up

Zvamaida Murwira Herald Reporter
Labour unions have welcomed Government’s initiative to tighten retrenchment regulations that will make it difficult for companies to throw people onto the streets. New requirements include submission by companies of the salary structure of the executive and management and allowances paid in cash or otherwise.

It was Government’s view that some firms were threatening economic growth through unjustified retrenchments which mostly affected low-grade workers while safeguarding top executives.

The protection of employees is strongly entrenched in the Labour Act and the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira last week directed that companies or institutions wishing to retrench should first get approval from Government.

United Food and Allied Workers Unions of Zimbabwe general secretary, Mr Adonia Mutero, said the regulations were progressive but urged Government to gazette the requirements for them to have legal effect.

“We are 100 percent behind the regulations announced by Minister Mupfumira. What we want is to translate the regulations into a Statutory Instrument so that it will have legal effect. That way, it will be easy to implement,” said Mr Mutero.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary general, Mr Japhet Moyo, welcomed the regulations saying they would go a long way in protecting workers from some “insensitive” employers.

He said the regulations were consistent with the Government’s policy of preserving jobs.

Mr Moyo said historically, retrenchments were meant to save companies from collapsing, but that appeared not to be the objective in most firms these days.

“The regulations spelt out by the Government are commendable and necessary. Some companies retrench citing viability challenges but continue paying their executives fringe benefits and other perquisites such as holiday allowances,” said Mr Moyo. Some of the new requirements were that companies that intended to retrench should submit their wage bills, highlighting how much would be saved by the proposed retrenchments.

They should also submit the fee structure of their board of directors, including allowances paid to the directors. They should also submit measures previously undertaken by management and workers to avoid retrenchments.

Minister Mupfumira said Government would use the information to assess the relevance of the proposed retrenchment and how it would benefit or turnaround the company. She warned employers against providing false information, saying they would be prosecuted.

If a company does not comply with the new requirements, their application will not be processed until all the relevant information has been provided.

A company would be liable for prosecution if it provided false information.