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After a Five year hiatus the resurrected Tripartite Negotiating Forum yesterday held its first meeting in the capital where it deliberated on pressing economic issues, foremost of which is the massive retrenchments of workers. The TNF is a social dialogue platform that brings together Government, business and labour to negotiate key socio-economic matters.

It has existed since 1998 as a voluntary and unlegislated chamber in which the social partners discussed socio-economic matters and last met in September 2010.

Key Government officials included cabinet ministers Patrick Chinamasa for Finance, Mike Bimha for Industry and Commerce and Simon Khaya Moyo for Economic Planning.

The two centres, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions attended the private meeting, as well as employers and other business people.

Officially opening the meeting Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira who was chairing, said the body expected to deliberate on the long list of issues that had accumulated over time when it was not meeting.

“The agenda is quite comprehensive because the TNF last met on September 16 2010. In this regard there is need for patience to enable us to thoroughly discuss the issues at hand,” she said.

“I am reliably aised that the last meeting of the TNF mandated the technical committee to work on matters it had agreed to, and that the work has been ongoing since 2010,” she added.

The Forum also focused on the Labour Law Reform, creation of an independent secretariat, challenges facing local companies and the creation of a National Health Insurance Scheme.

Results of the deliberations would be released in a report to be compiled.

Revival of the TNF comes at a time the economy is in deep recession characterised by a severe liquidity crunch and job losses as a result of company closures and retrenchments.

Sources at the Retrenchment Board have previously indicated that they deal with a minimum of 100 and a maximum of 400 retrenchments weekly as the economy continues to recede.

This has led to a weakened tax base for the Government which has been forced to shift pay dates for civil servants, a development that has sparked fears that this could lead to Government failing to pay salaries altogether.

Industrial capacity utilisation is below 40 percent with some sectors such as the textile industry operating at only 10 percent. – New Ziana.

Source : The Herald