THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) will only make their participation at the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) known during the second half of the year.
P>The clarification by labour on its participation in the talks which also involves government and business, follows the misrepresentation of facts by the Minister of Public Service and Social Welfare Paul Mangwana who claimed that at TNF meetings there were other workers’ representatives.
Labour pulled out of last year’s discussions following the unilateral increase of fuel by government in April last year.
In a statement this week, Wellington Chibhebhe, labour’s secretary general said tripartism needed commitment and negotiating in good faith.
“As far as ZCTU is concerned it was the only labour body in the TNF at that time and there are records and minutes to prove that. The assertion that there were other labour bodies in the TNF is surprising and very inaccurate,” the statement said. “The ZCTU will only consider its position in the TNF after a National Symposium in July which is being organised by the International Labour Organisation/Swiss Project. The purpose of the symposium is to educate social partners, particularly other government economic ministries on the importance and rules of the game.”
Chibhebhe said if government was serious about courting the ZCTU back to the TNF it should not do this through misrepresenting facts in the media adding that it was beginning the process on the wrong footing.
Chibhebhe castigated Mangwana’s claims that the pulling out of labour was a matter of being uncooperative.
“The ZCTU withdrew from the TNF on April 23 2003 after the government had unilaterally decided to announce the increase of the price of fuel in the dead of night on April 16 and then claimed that the increases were agreed to at the TNF, yet the matter was under negotiation,” Chibhebhe said.
“It was at this time that the ZCTU realised that the government wanted to manipulate other social partners and use them to assent to its imposed decisions.”
The withdrawal of labour subsequently led to the collapse of the talks.
Since the beginning of this year, the Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe has been appealing to labour for the resumption of the TNF discussions.
However labour is still to make a decision as to when it will reconsider its position.
Chibhebhe defended the move to pull out saying this was done because, by agreeing to anti-labour policies, this would have meant that they were embracing some fallacious policies “meant to rescue the situation for government only”.
On Wednesday, central bank governor Gideon Gono said there was need for the revival of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum to engender a “solid ground for a social contract”.