HARARE, Cracks have emerged in Zimbabwe's labour movement with the newly registered workers representative body, the Trade Union Congress of Zimbabwe (TUCZ), saying it is firmly behind the zero draft Labour Amendment Bill produced by consultants engaged by the government and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

This came as the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) was breathing fire, accusing the government of hijacking the process and going it alone in coming up with the draft as opposed to working within the dictates of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF), a body which brings together the government, employers and workers to deal with issues affecting the economy. The ZCTU has since embarked on a parallel process to come up with a separate draft.

The TUCZ, born out of employee associations dismissed from the ZCTU and registered in the first quarter of this year, said Monday it would soon request the government for a meeting to push for reform of the Labour Act using the zero draft.

Amendments to the labour law were proposed as part of measures to protect the interests of both workers and employers in the wake of the landmark July 2015 Supreme Court ruling which allowed employers to sack employees on three months' notice without compensation.

The judgment resulted in more than 20,000 workers being sent home without benefits, worsening poverty levels in the country.

TUCZ is fully and unreservedly behind the zero draft Labour Amendment Bill which was produced by seasoned labour law consultants engaged by the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) in conjunction with the International Labour Organization (ILO) as the guideline and starting point for any labour law reform in Zimbabwe, said acting TUCZ president Angeline Chitambo.

She said the zero draft was a starting point and work in progress in the process of holistic labour law reform.

Instead of embarking on a parallel process, there is need to look at the positive contents of that zero draft Labour Amendment Bill and meaningfully engage other stakeholders for the improvement of any grey areas in our labour law, she said.

We need not be reminded that the whole purpose of our labour law since independence has been to do away with unreasonable common law regime whose thrust was to keep the employment relationship as one between master and servant and not employer and employee.

Chitando said the country's labour law was in need of urgent reform, adding it was imperative that all stakeholders remained united to come up with a good law that worked for everyone.

Any organization or person that opposes the GoZ/ILO driven labour law reform process clearly exposes a myopic hidden agenda of abusing donor funds to stir labour unrest in the country and complete disrespect of employees' labour rights, she said, adding existing labour laws were too rigid and disadvantaged workers.

"We are tired of seeing workers being sent home empty handed, cruel retrenchments, parallel jurisdiction of the Labour Court and High Court which is extremely retrogressive and delaying finalization of labour matters, to mention but a few, Chitambo said.