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    Saturday, 28 April 2018

    The role of workers’ committees at the work place


    There are a number of organizations operating in Zimbabwe where there are no workers' committees' especially small and medium enterprises. The question which immediately comes to mind is how are their disciplinary committees and Works Councils constituted if ever they exist? The Labor Act makes it obligatory for workers' committee members to sit on disciplinary committees and works council platforms and the composition will be fifty- fifty. 
    Workers committee members play a pivotal role in advancing employees interests at the work station. This is achievable via a number of roles they play at enterprise level. They assist in dispute resolution when they sit on the disciplinary panel where they hear acts of misconduct cases jointly with management and arrive at a judgment and ultimate penalty. It becomes paramount that the committee should possess knowledge regarding the disciplinary procedures where the other members will come in to represent the respondent. It then becomes imperative that they should be trained on how to lead a defense outline. It is the right of every employee to be represented in a disciplinary hearing.
    Another important role where they could advance employees' interests is in the Works Council. Again as in the disciplinary machinery, the composition should be fifty- fifty. It is in these works council meetings where they would articulate issues to do with productivity, economic competitiveness, health and safety issues and resource allocation at the work place as provided under Amendment No. 5 of 2015 section 74.
    Collective bargaining at enterprise level is driven by the workers committee which is another paramount role. To be able to bargain with the employer effectively, the workers committee need to be privy with the scope for collective bargaining. This is a very important matter to employees because wage increments and improved conditions of work do not come on a silver platter. Employers need to make profits while improved conditions are a cost center hence the two parties have conflicting interests. It is important that both parties accept the fact that the enterprise need to survive first so that they could both milk it. A compromise position by both parties would result in marriage for these competing interests and ultimately survival of the goose that should keep laying the eggs.
    It is then imperative for both workers committees and management to get training on how to handle the collective bargaining process, disciplinary case management and works council meetings. For those organizations that do not have workers committees, they should be constituted without delay so that employees' interests are advanced at the work station as provided under section 2A and 7 of the Labor Act. For training on listed roles and further explanations do not hesitate to contact the undersigned.
    Mr Togaraseyi Zvomoyo is a Managing Consultant with Labor Standards Pvt Ltd an HR and Labor Consultants Firm and is an Associate Consultant with Industrial Psychology Consultants - IPC. He is also a part time Lecturer with Reformed Church University in the Human Resources Management Dept – Harare Campus and a PhD Student in Human Resources Management. You can conduct him on 0774 805 766 or email: tzvomoyo@gmail.com
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