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COMPANIES cannot unilaterally cut workers’ salaries for work stoppages caused by load-shedding as such a move is illegal, Government said yesterday.

This comes after Tobacco Processors Zimbabwe (TPZ) deducted from the workers’ salaries production hours lost to load-shedding by Zesa.

TPZ went as far as incorporating a clause in the workers’ contracts of employment specifically stating it was not paying for hours lost to unforeseen circumstances like ZESA load-shedding.

The company also sends workers home whenever it experiences power outages up to a time when electricity is restored.

The development has torched a storm among the workers.

Yesterday, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira said the move by TPZ violated the labour law.

“After consultations with trade union officials in the tobacco industry, we have noted that a clause is now included in the contracts of employment for the NEC employees of TPZ which says that TPZ shall not pay employees in case of work interrupted or affected by such processes over which the company has no control like loadshedding by Zesa,” Minister Mupfumira said.

“This is in contravention of Statutory Instrument 85 of 1993 (4) (sector CBA) which states that ‘if an employer for any reason is unable or unwilling to provide work when an employee is ready to work then the employer will pay for those hours’.

“The Labour Act 28:01 provides under Section 82 1(a) that ‘where a collective bargaining agreement has been registered it shall with effect from the date of its publication be binding on the parties to the agreement, including all the members of such parties and all employers, contractors and their respective employees in the undertaking of industry to which the agreement relates’. As such TPZ must comply with the provisions in their sector,” she said.

Minister Mupfumira aised the sector union to file a formal complaint with the ministry to enable it to resolve the matter.

Clause 2 of the TPZ workers’ contract now reads: “You shall be required to work 45 hours a week and a maximum of 195 hours per month. You shall only be remunerated based on the actual hours you have worked during the month or any part thereof. This means that if the work schedule is stopped, interrupted or affected by such processes over which the company has no control, like loadshedding by Zesa, among other things, then no remuneration shall be paid in respect of the time or period affected by those stoppages or interruptions. If you are in a prescribed occupational category in terms of the collective bargaining agreements which cover the company, your hours of work may vary from those mentioned above.”

TPZ human resources manager Mr Samson Mugumisi told The Herald a fortnight ago that they introduced the changes to cushion the company against possible losses caused by unforeseen interruptions.

“We put the provision to safeguard ourselves. You send people away, when Zesa (electricity) comes back you call them back. We are being practical about the situation,” he said then.

Source : The Herald