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Evasive Ministers Finally Sit In TNF

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Ministers who sit in the Tripartite Negotiating (TNF) Forum to finally attended a meeting to discuss solutions to worsening economic hardships after workers and employers threatened to seek the intervention of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The TNF is a constitutionally mandated body bringing together representatives of the government, business sector and organised labour.

It is constituted through the Tripartite Negotiating Forum Act, making it a serious platform for discussing matters pertaining to the social contract.

The labour side of the forum, has been trying since 2017 to convene meetings with government and business representatives to discuss lasting solutions to the livelihoods crisis caused by inflation but cabinet ministries from the economic and labour clusters such as the Finance ministry and Labour and Social Welfare ministry have been shunning crucial meetings.

Miffed by the continued snub, the TNF members of the technical committee who included leaders from ZFTU, ZCTU, Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Service Trade Unions and the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe wrote a petition to ED complaining about the ministers’ unbecoming conduct.

Zimbabwe has a legal obligation to respect social dialogue and make it function in terms of ILO convention 144 which the country has ratified.

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Failure to uphold international conventions leaves the country liable to ILO sanctions. The TNF petition to Mnangagwa detailed the complaint and took aim at Finance minister Mthuli Ncube.

“We have had more than four main TNF meetings where we were to critically look at the issues relating to the socio-economic challenges and erosion of wages in our country yet the 13 ministries are only sending technical persons, particularly the Ministry of Finance which has not even been represented despite being the lead ministry representing government.”

The TNF meeting was held on 23 September 2022 on the 11th floor of the National Social Security Authority boardroom.

 The t was chaired by Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Paul Mavhima while the government team was led by the minister of state for Presidential Affairs in charge of Implementation and Monitoring, Joram Gumbo.

On the issue of erosion of wages and salaries, the draft proposal, which now awaits tabling before cabinet, says that the labour side insisted that the least-paid workers like domestic employees must earn US$238, but the final recommendation agreed upon by all the three sectors was that the figure be put at US$150.

“Following extensive discussions on the matter, social partners recommended that: A guideline be established across all sectors pegging the minimum wage at US$150.00 payable either in US$ or ZWL$ at the prevailing inter-bank rate.”

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