By Labour & Commercial Lawyer Caleb Mucheche
Labour law in Zimbabwe has evolved and expanded from pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial independent Zimbabwe to present day. The history of labour law development in Zimbabwe will be remiss or incomplete without giving due recognition to the supreme sacrifices made by early torchbearers for labour justice in Zimbabwe like the late independence forebears, nationalists cum trade unionist labour leaders like Benjamin Burombo, Masotsha Ndlovu, Joshua Nkomo, Herbert Chitepo, Leopold Takawira, Edison Sithole, Samuel Parirenyatwa, George Silundika and Jason Moyo to name but a few not in any hierarchy, order or superiority. One of the chief purposes of labour law is regulation of economic redistribution of wealth in society between the haves and have nots by addressing bread and butter issues of the stomach. The fight for the independence of Zimbabwe cannot be divorced from the fight for economic emancipation of the majority or masses, for without economic independence to access and enjoy the means of production in society, there is no meaningful independence for the majority people. This legal analysis and commentary of the Labour Amendment Bill, 2021 traces the historical evolution and development of labour law in Zimbabwe before and after independence and the practical implications of such amendments to the dynamic employment relationship.
Justification for regulation of labour law to counterbalance inherent unequal bargaining power between an employer and employee
The lopsided relationship of economic dependence by an employee on an employer coupled with higher economic bargain power of the employer makes a mockery and laughingstock any notion that an employer and employee are equal in such a relationship of employment as was proven by the common law power of arbitrary termination of employment that ensued pursuant to the Zuva Supreme Court judgment of 17 July 2015. The lack of equality in an employment relationship characterised by economic disparity between an employer and employee is an open secret or matter of public knowledge especially in a developing nation like Zimbabwe. Inequality is treating unequal persons equally and equal persons unequally. An employer who owns and controls the means of production has more weight and say in an employment relationship than an employee who is economically dependent on the employer. Labour law seeks to counterbalance the existing inherent inequality in the employment relationship and competing interests of employer and employee via statutory regulation. Consequently, this paper seeks to unearth, unravel and unpack the proposed law by availing an extensive commentary and intensive legal analysis of the Labour Amendment Bill, 2021.
International Law influence on Zimbabwean labour law under International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions and Recommendations
More than five amendments have been made to try and align Zimbabwean Labour Law with international best practice and the coming in of new trends. This is in order to give influence of the International obligations of the nation as a member state of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). This promotes the creation of a good and economical labour market that entices good investment opportunities and motivates investments in accordance to international developments such as ILO Conventions and Recommendations and Best Practices. In light of the above, one would appreciate that the development of Labour Law in Zimbabwe is not stagnant. This commentary is based on the review of the developments that the Labour amendment Bill of 2021 seeks to make on the existing provisions of the Labour Act [Chapter 28:01] and the effectiveness or efficacy of such developments read more..