International Labour Organisation warns Zimbabwe
THE International Labour Organisation (ILO)’s Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA) has warned government for refusing to register trade unions, saying this undermined the right of workers to free association.
CFA’s warning came in the wake of complaints lodged by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) last year.
This was after government declined to register the Zimbabwe Footwear Tanners and Allied Workers’ Union (ZFTAWU) comprising 850 workers at Bata Shoe Company in Gweru who resigned from the Zimbabwe Leather Shoe and Allied Workers Union (ZLSAWU) because it was no longer acting in their interest.
The workers, led by their representative, had formed ZFTAWU on May 10, 2012, which had proceeded to adopt its constitution as required under the Labour Act, and applied for registration on May 21, 2012 in terms of the same Act.
ZCTU had also complained to CFA that the National Union of Metal and Allied Industries of Zimbabwe (NUMAIZ) had remained unregistered since June 2013.
After assessing facts presented by ZCTU and government, ILO’s CFA ruled in favour of the main labour movement.
Established in 1951, CFA is a governing committee composed of an independent chairperson and three representatives from government, employers and workers.
The organ examines complaints about violations of freedom of association and member States’ compliance with conventions.
CFA has recommended that the period for registering a worker representative body has to be reasonable and asked government to take the necessary measures to review ZFTAWU’s application with a view to approving its registration, thus guaranteeing the right of the 850 workers to trade union representation.
“The committee requests the government to keep it informed in this respect,” CFA said in its report.
“As regards the NUMAIZ application for registration, the committee requests the government to ensure that the procedure is expedited, if it has yet to be concluded, and to transmit the Registrar’s decision. The committee urges the government to take the necessary steps for the adoption and effective implementation of the code of conduct so as to ensure that the police and security forces follow clear lines of conduct with regard to human rights and trade union rights,” CFA said. Contacted for comment, an official with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Precious Sibiya, said: “The record of accreditation proceedings on ZFTAWU shows that the Registrar was satisfied that the registration of the trade union would not further the interests of the majority of the workers in the sector.”
She said NUMAIZ’s application had been denied because of legal inconsistencies in sectors intended to be represented.
This suggests that the application was resolved during CFA’s deliberation, which based its findings on delays in registration rather than decline of registration.
“The trade union is a merger of several trade unions in the metal sector. In a merger, every registered trade union brings with it its registered interest to be incorporated into the merged trade union. The trade union, however, sought to include into its scope of registration sectors which none of the merging trade unions were registered to cover. In that respect, the trade union was registered to cover the interests for which there is a registered trade union. Those sectors for which there was no registered trade union were excluded from its scope of registration.
“As a member State as well as a member of the governing body of the ILO, the Government of Zimbabwe seriously considers recommendations made by the ILO. Government is continuously engaging social partners with a view to addressing issues identified,” said Sibiya.
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