Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Reporter—
PUBLIC Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira yesterday assured workers that no employees will be laid off as Government rationalises the country’s public service establishment.Speaking during the 2016 Workers’ Day commemorations at Rufaro Stadium in Harare yesterday, Minister Mupfumira said the process will be done in consultation with employee representatives through the National Joint Negotiating Council.
Minister Mupfumira said Government looks forward to making substantial savings through the process, thereby releasing pressure on the already constrained fiscus. “Please note that the rationalisation process will be done in consultation with the workers through the National Joint Negotiating Council.
“Let me also hasten to emphasise that the exercise to rationalise the country’s public service establishments shall not result in the loss of jobs. No civil servant shall be laid off,” said Minister Mupfumira. She said Government remains committed to addressing workers’ concerns, and would continue to respect the tripartite negotiation approach.
She said this is evidenced by the Ministry’s intervention through the amendment of the Labour Act to curb massive job terminations that occurred last year following a Supreme Court judgment in the case of Zuva Petroleum.
Minister Mupfumira also said the process of labour law reforms, which all employees’ representatives spoke eloquently about earlier, was nearing completion. “In the same vein, the Public Service Act is being reviewed in order to align it with the Constitution and international best practices and the process is at an advanced stage,” she said.
She said the Labour Advisory Council is almost complete with its task following the April 30 2016 deadline given by the Tripatite Negotiating Forum (TNF). Minister Mupfumira implored public workers to work as a team so that the public service remains relevant, responsible and responsive to the needs of Zimbabweans.
“Serious efforts are being undertaken to change the public service work orientation from business as usual culture to citizen-centred approach in order to promote public confidence in public offices,” she said.
Earlier, various labour movements including the Apex Council, Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions, Harare Municipality Workers Union and the Zimbabwe Energy Workers Union had called for finalisation of the labour laws alignment to address issues of job security coupled with unfair termination of employment.
ZFTU president Mr Kennias Shamhuyarira also spoke against persecution of trade unionists by employers, lengthy periods of non-payment of salaries, unsafe and unhealthy working conditions and corruption in both private and public sectors.
Apex Council chairperson Mrs Cecilia Alexandra urged Government to convene an urgent meeting with the Council to address issues such as the rationalisation process, the civil service audit, pension fund and the housing scheme among others.
“We thank the President for ensuring that we get our bonuses and we know that he is a man of his word. We also hope that he will make sure that we get paid salaries that are above the poverty datum line,” she said.
Harare Municipality Workers Union representative Mr Cosmas Bungu lamented the state of affairs in Harare with regards to workers’ conditions of service, which he equated to the colonial era.
Mr Bungu called on Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere, who was also present, to intervene in addressing the workers’ plight. “The current scenario in Harare City reminds us of Rhodesia. The system does not respect its employees or prioritise service delivery,” he said. In her solidarity message, the International Labour Organisation country director Ms Hopolang Phororo urged Government to prioritise workers instead of sacrificing them for temporary benefit.
Ms Phororo said workers were vital in the growth of the economy.
Sports and Recreation Minister, Makhosini Hlongwane, Minister of State for Harare Provincial Affairs Miriam Chikukwa, Minister of State in Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s office Tabetha Kanengoni-Malinga, deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Aldrin Musiiwa and Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Deputy Minister Tapiwa Matangaidze were some of the Government officials who attended the celebrations.
This year’s commemorations ran under the theme: “Growing the Economy through a Shared Vision and Creating Sustainable Employment.”