Honorable Minister of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Fellow workers in the struggle,
Comrades and friends,
It is with humility, comrade Minister, for us as TUCZ, that we share this day with you, as a representative of Government.
We are participating here today as a fully fledged and registered independent labor federation with a very strong, if not the strongest membership base in Zimbabwe.
Our presence here today is clear testimony to our recognition of Government as a key stakeholder in the employment relationship in this country.
Comrade Minister, our mission, vision and values as TUCZ are very clear. We are an independent membership driven worker, and I repeat, worker, organization whose sole mandate is to further our members’ interests in all aspects of their welfare.
We stand by our principle as the vanguard of the working class struggle against monopoly capital in all its manifestations. Our members are faced with a multiplicity of challenges amongst which are; low salaries, retrenchments, short working hours, salary back logs, unsafe working conditions and no social security just to mention but a few.
Whilst this is our day, as workers, we appreciate government’s recognition of the day and commitment to its regulatory mandate in the tripartite set up.
We also recognize government’s role, through your Ministry, comrade Minister, of ratifying and domesticating progressive ILO Conventions.
This year’s theme, “Organize, innovate for a sustainable working environment’’ is apt as it requires of us to organize ourselves as workers and to be ingenious and resourceful in our respective workplaces with our wide range of skills and expertise.
As Zimbabweans we are blessed in that we have a good work ethic that is the envy of most nations and we plead with government to duly recognize that and help in the creation of a conducive and sustainable working environment capable of rewarding and retaining our critical human resource for the benefit of the nation.
Workers need recognition and aspire to a decent living wage, comrade Minister. They also need a safe working environment, decent housing and guaranteed social security. We appeal to you, comrade Minister as the government arm, to extend your interest and scrutiny beyond government institutions and parastatals to the private sector. It is shocking that even after the moderation and regulation of salaries, some companies continue to pay their managers hefty salaries disguised in the form of perks whilst workers continue to wallow in poverty earning well below PDL salaries.
Whilst we very much appreciate your Ministry’s campaign for progressive labor law reforms, we believe there is still a long way towards the attainment of a truly inclusive social dialogue discourse and we sincerely appeal to you as government to work on that. The TNF should be a platform for meaningful social dialogue whose decisions are binding and get implemented.
We are also cognizant of the ongoing process of the amendment of the Labor Act (Chapter 28:01) in which the Ministry is working jointly with the International Labor Organization (ILO). Having gone through the zero draft of the amendment Bill, TUCZ is fully in support of the proposed amendments as we are convinced that they go a long way in clearing the sticky areas in the current Act which are being exploited by employers, especially in the aftermath of the enactment of the Labor Amendment (No.5) Act, 2015 resulting in thousands of employees being sent home with no compensation whatsoever.
As TUCZ we wish to point out to government, through you comrade Minister, to expedite the process of harmonization of labor laws in Zimbabwe. It is our belief that all workers, regardless of whether they are government employees or private sector, need to be protected through the same laws, as worker rights are similar and basic fundamental rights as given by the Constitution and international statutes that Zimbabwe has ratified as a member of the progressive community.
We further call upon the Ministry to speed up the process of aligning provisions of the Labor Act to the relevant provisions of the Constitution of
Zimbabwe Amendment (No.20), 2013 in e.g. section 65 (7) for workers of Zimbabwe to enjoy their Constitutional rights fully.
TUCZ subscribes to the ideology of empowerment which it believes should be transparent and all inclusive. Currently workers are in the least in terms of benefiting from the policy. Other sectors such as Artisanal Miners, Informal Traders and Cooperatives have all benefited through government assistance except workers. Workers are also interested in land, by the way.
Government should also encourage employers and some local authorities that are in salary areas to come up with debt swap arrangements wherein workers are allocated residential stands in lieu of salary arrears. We believe government has already taken the lead by allocating civil servants some stands. This is commendable and all workers should benefit similarly.
We are also concerned, comrade Minister, with the levels of pensions being paid by both NSSA and private Pension Funds Schemes. The amounts are too low and are not commensurate with the investments that these organizations have and the return on investment thereof. We believe that the Ministry should cause a serious investigation into the operations of these Pension Funds with a view of analyzing their cost structures as we suspect these are not benefiting the pensioners. Most of these Pension Funds are very well invested in real estate and other lucrative vehicles, reaping in millions of dollars in returns and then splurging their managers and staff with perks.
As workers we will also continue to call upon your Ministry to enforce strict corporate governance on NSSA as we continue to hear stories of financial impropriety from that organization.
Once again, comrade Minister, we thank you, as TUCZ, for having afforded us this opportunity to share with you this platform on this a grand occasion in our history as workers.
Long live TUCZ,
I thank you.
ACTING PRESIDENT (TUCZ)