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No power, no pay

A Harare tobacco company has told its workers that they will not be paid if they stop work because of power cuts from the national electricity supplier, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA). But the government says this is illegal. According to The Herald, Tobacco Processing Zimbabwe recently amended its workers’ contract to read: “You shall be required to work 45 hours a week and a maximum of 195 hours per month. You shall only be remunerated based on the actual hours you have worked during the month or any part thereof. This means that if the work schedule is stopped, interrupted or affected by such processes over which the company has no control, like loadshedding by ZESA, among other things, then no remuneration shall be paid in respect of the time or period affected by those stoppages or interruptions. If you are in a prescribed occupational category in terms of the collective bargaining agreements which cover the company, your hours of work may vary from those mentioned above.” The paper said the company’s human resources manager Samson Mugumisi defended the decision saying: “We put the provision to safeguard ourselves. You send people away, when ZESA (electricity) comes back you call them back. We are being practical about the situation.”  But Labour Minister Prisca Mupfumira does not agree. The clause stating that workers should not be paid when there is a power cut, she says, is “in contravention of Statutory Instrument 85 of 1993 (4) (sector CBA) which states that ‘if an employer for any reason is unable or unwilling to provide work when an employee is ready to work then the employer will pay for those hours’. The Labour Act 28:01 provides under Section 82 1(a) that ‘where a collective bargaining agreement has been registered it shall with effect from the date of its publication be binding on the parties to the agreement, including all the members of such parties and all employers, contractors and their respective employees in the undertaking of industry to which the agreement relates’. As such TPZ must comply with the provisions in their sector”.

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