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    Friday, 5 February 2016

    Job security in Zim only for judges – labour law expert

    Mirror Reporter

    Victoria Falls – Workers in Zimbabwe including those in management positions have lost any form of job security and can be fired anytime using the labour law amendments enacted late last year where dismissals can be made by an employer through a three months' notice.
    The only group of workers that has job security in Zimbabwe are the Judges.This was said by Caleb Mucheche a senior partner at Matsikidze and Mucheche Legal Practitioners Commercial and Labour Law Chambers when he addressed delegates at the Zimbabwe Energy Workers' Union Congress held in Victoria Falls two weeks ago.
    He described all workers in Zimbabwe as "legally naked" as their contracts of employment can be terminated any time on three months' notice and warned that  gnashing of teeth is still to come for workers unless the Labour Law is urgently amended.
    Mucheche said the recent amendments to the labour law have far reaching effects including the possibility of completely wiping away labour rights and burying trade unions in the country.
    He said the new law favours no one against dismissal as both general workers, managers and directors are affected.
    He however, said the only group of workers who are immune to the new law are the judges of the Labour Court, High Court, Supreme Court, Constitutional Court and the Prosecutor General as these are a special category of employees who enjoy security of tenure in terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No. 20 of 2013.
    Mucheche however, criticised the disparity where judges are protected against dismissal while the rest of the workers have lost job security as a clear violation of equality before the law. He said this was unjustified discrimination and an affront to section 56 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
    He called for the urgent amendment of the labour law if workers are to enjoy standard rights including job security.
    "The Labour Amendment Act No. 5 of 2015 is half hearted approach to the protection of employees against arbitrary dismissal by employers. Effectively, employees are still at the whims and caprice of some unscrupulous employers who can abuse the statutory right to terminate a contract on notice.
    "The concept of job security in Zimbabwe has been destroyed and employees should brace up for tough times ahead and gnashing of teeth unless the labour legislation is urgently amended to address the shortcomings of the law," said Mucheche.
    He said the new law may also lead to the extinction of trade unionism as termination of contracts on three months' notice maybe used to target any employees who maybe perceived to cause problems, no matter how bona fide the employee maybe.
    Mucheche argued that the amendment of the labour law should be made on the grounds that an employer's right to terminate a contract of employment on notice potentially violates section 65 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the Internationally Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 158.
    Section 65 among other things underscores the right to fair labour practices and the right to just and equitable conditions of employment. The employer's right to terminate a contract of employment on notice runs foul to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 158 which provides that an employee's contract of employment should not be terminated without a valid cause related to the employee's conduct, capacity or operational requirements of the employer.
    Mucheche said that the latest amendment to Labour Law where either part can terminate an employment contract on three months' notice makes a wrong assumption that an employer and an employee are equal.
    "The argument that both employers and employees should equally enjoy the right to terminate a contract of employment is misconceived and premised on a fallacy that employers and employees are equal. Theoretically employers and employees are equal but practically they are unequal because an employee is invariably economically dependent on the employer.
    "The employer owns the treasury purse and if any employee fails to toe the employer's line, such an employee can be condemned to hunger and abject poverty," said Mucheche. news
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