MUTARE– Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Union says workers are reeling under oppressive working conditions unilaterally introduced as flexi hours by employees who are using Covid-19 as a ruse to clamp down on workers right.
ZCTU organizing secretary, Michael Kandukutu says this arbitrary imposition of flexible working hours has been facilitated by selective application of the law in the country which has led to the dearth of the rule of law.
Kandukutu said workers are no longer enjoying decent work as their employees are taking advantage of Covid-19.
He said decent work deficits and lack of respect for workers’ rights as provided by the Constitution, was impacting negatively on both informal and formal sector.
“On the challenges facing the workers one thing that we picked up which came out clearly was the issue of the rule of law. It appears that there is selective application of the law as it relates to both formal and informal workers.
“It’s the same in the formal workers we see that employers have chosen to arbitrary not respect workers’ rights by introducing flexible working conditions, which by their very nature these are supposed to be discussed at the works council at company level or by the National Employment Council.
“So we see employers in the disguises of Covid rule of decongesting the workplace coming up with crazy inventions that they ask workers to be at home when they are not paying workers’ salaries for the time they are at home,” he said.
Kandukutu said the myriad of challenges in the economy could only be resolved through engagement in progressive dialogue that brings all concerned parties to the table.
He said ZCTU sees workers burdened by high taxation despite deplorable service provision by the state, particularly the health and education sector.
Kandukutu said proposed dialogue would only work if the parties’ involved genuinely presented issues, from both government and employers point of view.
“The issue of high taxation pay as you earn (PAYE) value added tax (VAT) transaction tax, workers are bemoaning the fact that taxation is high but the service that should be coming from the fiscus remains deplorable.
“When you look at our health sector, education and many other social amenities that are supposed to be provided for the fiscus, you find that citizens and the workers generally are not happy.
“We agree that most issue affecting workers and citizens can only be dealt with if are to engage in dialogue, but dialogue out of the utmost of good faith where there is respect by all three social partners employees, government and employers,” he said.
Naome Chakanya, economist researcher with Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ) a research arm of ZCTU said government should also focus on promoting the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
“Let’s look at the resources we have, we are an agro based economy with so much potential to do value addition in that sector. It can be in any sector whether its agro, in tobacco instead of selling off raw we can invest in processing of that tobacco.
“Our people are able and willing and have skills they just need support. Other economies are growing from SMEs even the growth of renewable energy for Germany was realised through SMEs,” she said.