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MDC-T Senators on Thursday walked out of the Upper House during a debate on the Labour Amendment Bill after their proposed changes were rejected by Zanu PF counterparts.
The opposition party was of the view it had been promised Tuesday, when the bill was debated in the National Assembly, that their amendments would be incorporated during the Senate discussions.
But, woefully outnumbered by the ruling party, MDC-T Senators were left exposed after labour minister Prisca Mupfumira and Zanu PF rejected their proposals on Thursday.
The bill seeks to stop the on-going carnage that has characterized the job market and caused over 20,000 job losses over the last few weeks.
It sailed through the Senate Thursday without amendments as Zanu PF members blocked attempts by the MDC-T to have fresh proposals inserted, particularly a clause that deals with compensation for workers when retrenched.
The MDC-T’s amendments sought to force companies seeking to retrench to pay workers a minimum one month’s salary for every year served, two months’ salary as severance package and a month’s salary for relocation.
But workers are now likely to go home with just two weeks’ salary for every year served after Zanu PF senators rejected the proposed amendments.
After intense debate and deliberations, the MDC-T senators were defeated due to their lesser numbers in the house and had to walk out leaving Zanu PF members to celebrate and pass the bill without amendments.
“It’s very unfortunate that we have to do this,” said MDC-T senator and chief whip, Misheck Marava.
“We wanted to empower the workers and cushion them; instead our Zanu PF counterparts are interested in having the bill passed without considering the shortfalls.
“Honestly, how can a person who has worked at a company for 40 years just be paid two weeks’ salary for every year served?
“As a party that represents ordinary workers, we wanted to ensure that when a worker is being retrenched, there is something meaningful to go home with but now Zanu PF, has shown its true colours.”
At least over 20,000 workers have lost their jobs since July 17 when the Supreme Court made a landmark ruling that allowed employers to fire workers by giving them three months’ notice without any terminal benefits.
The labour bill has had to be fast-tracked as a way of stopping the job losses that also affected state owned companies.
Labour and Social Welfare minister, Prisca Mupfumira lambasted the MDC-T Senators saying they wanted to delay the process, thereby exposing more workers to be dismissed.
“We are dealing with a crisis here and for us to drag more days while our people are suffering will be unfair.
“In any case, labour law reform continues and what the MDC-T people wanted, we were going to incorporate as we go. For now we want to stop the haemorrhage,” she said.
The Bill is set to be gazetted before President Robert Mugabe signs it into law. source-newzimbabwe