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GOVERNMENT has reaffirmed its commitment to the labour law reform process, which is expected to sustainably transform the country’s socio-economic fortunes. In his keynote address at the Institute of People Management of Zimbabwe annual convention in Victoria Falls recently, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister, Nicholas Goche, said the exercise is meant to achieve the broad development objectives as elaborated in the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset), the blueprint that will guide economic planning until 2018.

He said the process also endeavours to progressively narrow the gap between certain International Labour Organisation conventions and the country’s labour laws. “I am pleased to tell you that the thrust of the on-going labour law reform process which your government is committed to, is to achieve the broad developmental objectives as set out in the Zim-Asset,” said Goche.

“The developmental aspects of Zim-Asset are anchored on indigenisation, empowerment and employment creation, with an explicit target of 2,2 million new jobs by the year 2018. For this target to be achieved, trade-offs will have to be made between government, business and labour. While the labour legislation will continue to play its redistributive and protective role, it will have to specifically respond to the need to create an enabling environment for sustainable enterprises and economic turnaround. The strengthening of labour rights is not at cross purposes with development objectives, in fact these ends are gly positively correlated.”

Goche told delegates that it was important for employers and workers to engage each other in good faith and in pursuit of a broader objective, which would inevitably draw short-term sacrifices from all. He also warned that as the parties move ahead with labour law reforms, just like the benefits, some costs would be suffered across the board.

Goche also revealed that government was working on establishing the Zimbabwe National Productivity Institute, which is expected to play a major role in supporting an industrial relations framework that seeks to deal with collective bargaining, workers remuneration as well as enterprise capacity and sustainability.

“To ensure this labour law reform thrust are concurrent measures to make the Zimbabwe National Productivity Institute operational without further delay. The Institution can play a major role in supporting an industrial relations framework that is informed by properly defined, objective productivity and competitiveness benchmarks. The institute would thus serve to make the process of collective bargaining as provided for under the Labour Act more meaningful, serving to better co-relate workers’ remuneration with enterprise capacity and sustainability.”

He said although there were significant funding needs for setting up the institute, government was serious and urgently looking at how to operationalise the productivity institute.

Source : Financial Gazette