THE Tripartite Negotiating Forum’s labour side has written to Labour and Public Service Minister Paul Mavima asking him to urgently call a crisis meeting of the platform, immediately gazette the minimum wage agreed by parties to the forum in September last year and organise a gathering that would bring President Emmerson Mnangagwa to the table.
The letter dated Thursday 16 February 2023, is referenced “Gazetting and Review of Minimum Wage”. It was delivered to Mavima’s offices located in the 9th floor of Kaguvi Building on the same day.
TNF is a constitutionally formed body that comprises government, the business sector and labour representatives. It was formed by an Act of Parliament called the Tripartite Negotiating Forum Act which makes it a serious platform of discussing issues affecting workers.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions’ acting secretary general, Kudakwashe Munengiwa and the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions’ secretary general Kenneth Shamuyarira co-signed the latest letter.
Part of the letter reads: “On behalf of Organised Labour, we bring to your attention outstanding issues that have not been resolved after our last TNF meeting where we agreed that every worker must be paid at least US$150 per month.
“We are particularly unhappy that you have literary refused to gazette the agreed amount as a minimum wage and you prefer to call it a “guideline line” despite the fact that at the Victoria Falls meeting we all agreed to the gazetting of the US$150 minimum wage. Your failure to do so has made it difficult to enforce the US$150 as organize employers say they have no obligation to pay it.”
The workers added that they had agreed that the amount would be reviewed upwards in the first quarter of this year.
“Surprisingly, we are already in the first quarter of the year and no meeting has been called to review this amount. As partners, we feel you are not taking TNF platform seriously and understanding the importance of organised labour as a stakeholder and a partner in the TNF,” reads the letter.
The workers urged the minister to angering workers while asking him to facilitate a meeting with Mnangagwa.
“Comrade minister, workers out there are highly agitated and they might be forced to take the law into their own hands as the cost of living continues to spiral,” the workers said.
“We demand that you convene an urgent meeting of the TNF and arrange for another meeting of organized labour with H.E President Emmerson Mnangagwa.”
In an interview with The NewsHawks, Munengiwa who is also secretary general of the Zimbabwe Urban Councils Workers Union (ZUCWU) said the letter to Mavima was essentially putting him on notice over the grievances of the labour side of the TNF.
“We are disappointed that the Minister is refusing to gazzete a wage that we agreed on during a meeting held on 23 September last year. So, we are putting him on notice and saying if things remain as they are we must have a TNF meeting attended by the chief executive officer of this country who is Mnangagwa who said by 2030 he wants Zimbabwe to be middle class economy. In order to have that mission achieved, it starts with workers having a descent minimum wage so we want to help the country’s CEO achieve his target of 2030,” he said.
Munengiwa also highlighted that the workers would pursue other options to push for a descent minimum wage if Mavima still remained adamant.
Last year Mnangagwa was forced to jolt into action 13 ministers who sit in the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (NTF) to urgently attend meetings of the platform to discuss solutions to worsening economic hardships. Workers had petitioned Mnangagwa threatening to seek intervention of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The meeting was then held on 23 September 2022 at the NSSA boardroom.
Mavima chaired the meeting.
Zimbabwe has an obligation to respect social dialogue and make it function in terms of ILO Convention 144 which Zimbabwe has ratified.
Failure to do so makes the country liable to ILO sanctions and workers may instigate processes that may lead to that position being taken by the international body.