President’s 2014 End Of Year Statement

Zimbabwe Energy Workers Union (ZEWU)

INTRODUCTION:

2014 has been a year with socio-economic challenges which impacted negatively on the workers and the nation at large. As a result of serious liquidity crunch, corruption of the elite and lack of commitment by the management to address the concerns of the working class, workers’ standards of living fell to unprecedented levels. The quantity of money in the economy and its velocity of circulation are so low impacting the gross domestic product. There are no signs of any improvement in 2015 unless there are changes in macro-economic policies which address the economic fundamentals which are at the moment unfavourable.

MEMBERS WELFARE

Workers are the drivers of the economy who contribute immensely to productivity and economic development. We are therefore supposed to be compensated through salaries and favourable conditions of work. It is regrettable that in 2014, the energy industry failed to appreciate the role played by workers. The employers’ party negotiated in bad faith as they were dogging negotiations claiming that they didn’t have a mandate leading to the failure to conduct negotiations for 2014, while at ZINWA we reached a deadlock.

Comrades, some of our members and leaders died in 2014. I am humbled by their dedication to the advancement of the rights of the working class. May their souls rest in eternal peace.

 NATIONAL YOUTH CONFERENCE

As directed by the National Council the organisation organise and held a very successful 1stNational Youth Conference (NYC) in December 2014 to elect youth leadership. This was conducted under the theme “Preparing youth of today for vibrant trade unions”. The conference was held in the presence of the IndustriAll, a global union where we are internationally affiliated to and comrades from the region – National Union of Mineworkers South Africa NUM and  MUN (Namibia), our lawyers Matsikidze and Mucheche Associates, Munyaradzi Gwisai, sister unions within Zimbabwe (PTUZ, CASWUZ, ZLSAWU, MPWUZ and civic organisations

ACCIDENTS

An accident occurred at the ZPC Harare Power Station where a boiler steam pipe bursted and burnt Osweld Mudzi, Zano Mabara and Bernard Kariran’ombe. Mr. Mudzi who was the chief charge engineer was critically injured later passed on and the other two escaped with minor injuries. Prior to the fatal accident there was a serious accident where an employee from a contracted company named Extreme had his hand amputated. Another employee from the same company had also his finger amputated.  We condemn management of ZPC for failure to take precautionary members against possible accidents.

In Chinhoyi, our member, Christopher Chigore was seriously injured when he fell from a pole which he was working on. It is sad that the employer instructs employees to execute duties without taking proper precautionary measures resulting in serious accidents which can be avoided if health and safety precautions are put into practice.

STAFF ISSUES:

  1. Following the departure of Nobukosi Ncube, the union engaged Jane Ncube to work as office assistant at our Bulawayo Office.
  2. The organisation engaged a legal adviser on contract basis and this has seen an improvement on labour cases and disputes during 2014.

 PARALEGAL TRAINING

Out of the five (5) ZEWU members who were enrolled at Brigg Zano College, four managed to proceed to diploma level in the 2014/2015 intake. The organisation is using the candidates to represent members in disciplinary hearings and they have so far won cases in favour of the workers. Having realised the importance of the paralegal training programme, the organisation has recommended decentralisation of the programmes so that all regions can have access to the College located in their respective areas.

PRECARIOUS DAY COMMEMORATIONS

ZEWU joined the rest of the world in commemorations of the October 7, the Decent Work Day, in a campaign against precarious work under IndusriAll. Members marched within Harare demonstrating against precaurios work.

It was a success and I wish that all regions join next year commemorations to send the message to all employers to stop precaurious employment.

INDUSTRIALL CONFERENCE:

IndustriAll is a global union federation representing 50 million workers in 141 countries in the mining, energy, garment, electronics and other manufacturing sectors. ZEWU is happily affiliated to this Global trade union federation which build trade union capacity.

The Federation conducted a women regional conference on 14th October 2014 and a regional conference on 15-16 October 2014. The delegates shared ideas based on the 5 regional goals which include:

  • Building union power throughout the world;
  • Confronting global capital by pushing for recognition and global level negotiations with Multi-National Companies (MNCs);
  • Defending workers’ rights;
  • Building democratic and strong union structures in sub-Saharan Africa;
  • Fighting precarious work and developing sustainable industrial policies in Sub-Saharan Africa by building affiliates’ capacity to develop and implement their own vision.

I am happy as our organisation participates in regional and international trade union groupings to share ideas and experiences for the benefit of the working class.

T-SHIRTS:

The members of the organisation should identify themselves through ZEWU attire. The organisation supplied T-shirts to its members in all branches. Let me take this opportunity to thank members for their patience as it took the whole year to procure and distribute the T-shirts.

DISPUTES

ZESA 2012 CBA Arbitration:

An arbitral award in the employees’ favour was issued on 16th September 2014 of which ZESA advised us that it will comply. We are still waiting for Zesa to comply with the award since we are only left with three months from the period which they were given to comply with the award by the arbitrators. ZESA is therefore expected to pay according to the award and re-grade the employees in liaison with the trade unions.  However, it is frustrating that the employers are quiet as to when they will pay as per the arbitral award. Comrades, we need our money without any further delays.

I once again congratulate you for the spirit of determination which has afforded us to reach this far.

EXCESS HOURS:

This is a case where ZPC is not paying overtime for the excess hours worked beyond normal hours. We won the case at arbitration level and ZPC appealed to the Labour Court. The case was heard at the Labour Court on the 9th of October 2014 and judgment is yet to be handed down.

REA

The REA case concerning the shortfall of 15% on slashed allowances is pending before the arbitrator. Our lawyers have since applied for quantification and the employer was evading having an oral hearing before the arbitrator. Our lawyers have since instructed the arbitrator to deal with the quantification basing on the papers submitted by both parties.

NOIC & PETROTRADE CASE

The Labour Court finally ruled in favour of the employers on the basis there was an unregistered collective bargaining agreement. An unregistered collective bargaining agreement is not enforceable. Our lawyers advised us that there are no prospects of success in pursuing the matter to the Supreme Court.

ZINWA 50% HOUSING ALLOWANCE

We regret to announce that we lost our case which was pending in the Labour Court concerning the 50% housing allowance. The Labour Court ruled in favour of the employer on the basis that it is against public policy to award such a huge amount of money considering that Zinwa is a parastatal. The court ignored the fact that the allowance was by consent and the employer seeks to depart from it alleging public policy. We have applied for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court against the judgment of the Labour Court. The employer cannot be allowed to evade payment of the allowance arising from the agreement signed voluntarily.

CONCLUSION

Comrades; it was my pleasure working with everyone in 2014. We had successes, challenges and failures as a family. I thank you all for the wonderful work and the spirit of vigilance and togetherness. United we stand and Divided we fall. I urge you to approach 2015 with that same spirit.

Whilst you enjoy your bonus, please do exercise extreme caution bearing in mind other responsibilities in 2015. Let me take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

Thank you,

Chitambo (Mrs)

PRESIDENT

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