ZIMBABWE – PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe Tuesday appended his signature to Parliament amendments to the country labour law in the process giving effect to a hotly disputed retrospective clause.
Both the national assembly and Senate last week were recalled by Mugabe before being railroaded into passing changes to the original labour law.
The Labour Act had in recent weeks been weakened by a radical Supreme Court ruling made on July 17th that allowed employers to terminate contracts on three months notice.
The judgment, issued by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, led to massive job loses that estimates have put at more than 20 000.
Parliamentary lobby group Veritas used its social networking twitter page to announce that Mugabe had agreed to the changes as highly expected.
The group then published the amended parts of the new law focusing mainly on Section 12 that deals with contract termination.
Section 12 of the Labour Act [Chapter 28:01] as amended by this Act applies to every employee whose services were terminated on three months’ notice on or after the 17th July, 2015, part of the Act reads.
â€œSection 12 (b)( 4a) No employer shall terminate a contract of employment on notice unless– ( a) the termination is in terms of an employment code or, in the absence of an employment code, in terms of the model code made under section 101(9); or (b) the employer and employee mutually agree in writing to the termination of the contract or (c) the employee was engaged for a period of fixed duration or for the performance of some specific service; or (d) pursuant to retrenchment, in accordance with section 12.
Amid calls to use his presidential powers, Mugabe instead recalled Parliament and took advantage of this to present a State of the Nation Address that analysts said lacked substance and a clear direction on extricating the economy from the mire.
In his address, Mugabe made it clear that the common law position that had been cemented by the Supreme Court ruling must be removed.
The changes also force employers to pay at least two weeks pay for every year served and forces companies into expensive retrenchment exercises in the event that they want to fire more than one employee.
Unionists and opposition parties had demanded that the bill, before being signed into law, be changed to indicate that companies should in fact pay a month salary for every year served among a litany of benefits.