Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter
Parliament is expected to gazette the Labour Amendment Bill tomorrow, a development that kick-starts the process that will stop job losses that have affected tens of thousands of workers over the past four weeks.
Both private and public companies have used the July 17 Supreme Court ruling that exposed a gap in the Labour Act that gave both employers and employees the same legal status under the common law.
This position allows companies to lay off workers on three months’ notice without going through the expensive retrenchment process.
If passed into law, the Act is expected to bring relief among workers who have since lost job security as employers can just fire them willy-nilly.
Government has since introduced amendments that it expects to protect both employers and employees.
Clerk of Parliament, Mr Kennedy Chokuda, yesterday confirmed that Parliament received the Draft Bill last week.
“It has now gone to the printers and we have sent it to the Attorney General’s Office for proof reading,” said Mr Chokuda.
“We are hoping that the Bill will be gazetted on Friday. Parliament is the one that will gazette it.”
Parliament is currently on recess until September 1, this year.
“Therefore it will require His Excellency the President to summon Parliament to sit and attend to the Bill. If we are summoned we will attend to the Bill,” said Mr Chokuda.
His deputy, Ms Helen Dingani last week told The Herald that once the Bill is in Parliament, the process could be expedited to ensure that the amendments come into law at the earliest possible time.
She said it could take about a week to go through all the processes.
While the specific amendments could not be obtained, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira, recently told our sister paper, The Sunday Mail that the tenets of the amendments were based on the principle of social justice and democracy.
“So, basically, if the Labour Act (Amendment) Bill becomes law, the employer will not be able to fire a worker without giving reasons for the termination of his or her contract,” said Minister Mupfumira who is also the acting Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services.
“To be specific, we are saying there should be consensus between both parties.
‘‘There is need for us to protect both employer and worker. People cannot be fired willy-nilly; these amendments seek to ensure the worker is protected. One cannot have his/ her contract terminated without knowing the reason.”
She said Government wanted amendment of the Act to be expedited to avert the plight of workers.
President Mugabe reiterated that Government was against the firing of workers willy-nilly based on the Supreme Court ruling.
He said the Act would be amended to protect both workers and employers.