Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
PARLIAMENT has adopted resolutions of the recent public hearings where stakeholders called for an urgent need to regularise the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) to deal with socio-economic challenges and minimise industrial job action.
The countrywide public hearings were attended by different stakeholders including representatives from the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, farmer unions, Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development and Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, as well as the general public.
Presenting the Second Reading of the TNF Bill in Parliament on Tuesday, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza said:
“There was general consensus among stakeholders who attended all public hearings that regularising the TNF was a positive development, which was long overdue and should be expedited as a matter of urgency.
“Stakeholders noted that the platform would deal with socio-economic issues and minimise strikes, such as the January 2019 job stay away, which cost the country productive time and had other unfavourable consequences including violence.”
She said the TNF, which was established in 1998, sought to provide a platform for engagement, consultation and negotiation in meaningful social dialogue among Government, business and labour on issues of common interest relating to social and economic policy.
“The committee supports the expeditious establishment of a TNF-backed by statute and believes that it will resolve the multiple socio-economic challenges affecting our country today.
“Once the Bill is passed by Parliament and assented to by the President, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare should facilitate the setting up and operationalisation of the TNF without delay,” said Dr Nzenza.
In addition, all the three social partners were encouraged to adopt an earnest approach when participating in the TNF. The principal purpose of the TNF therefore, is to assist in finding solutions to social economic challenges facing the nation at any given time on a tripartite basis.
“The forum has since 1998 existed as a voluntary and unlegislated platform for social dialogue in Zimbabwe. However, there is consensus among social partners that the gains made so far by the TNF and its potential utility to the socio-economic development of the country can be fully harnessed if it is underpinned by a strong legislative framework,” said Dr Nzenza.
“The call for the development of the TNF legislation resonates with provisions of Section 65 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which recognises fair labour standards and the right to collective bargaining.
“These have been identified as necessary guiding principles for effective social dialogue.”
The Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare has also considered and compiled a report on the TNF Bill against a background that social dialogue is a key development issue pronounced in International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention Number 144 of 1976 and practiced the world over.
Zimbabwe ratified the Convention in 1989 while implementation of social dialogue can be traced back to the 1990s when the TNF was instituted. Government has further taken a step towards formalising social dialogue by initiating the TNF Bill [H.B. 5, 2018].
The Bill seeks to establish a TNF whose mandate is to ensure consultation, co-operation and negotiation on social and economic issues by Government, organised business and organised labour.