There could be a confrontation between the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, which for the first time this year is organising the Workers’ Day celebrations, and its affiliate unions as it has just been ruled that the national union’s increase of affiliate fees from five cents to 15 cents in 1990 was unconstitutional.
With the economic structural adjustment programme taking its toll on the meagre earnings of the workers there is no doubt that workers would oppose the increase.
A memo from the secretary of Labour, July Moyo, dated 22 January and dispatched to the ZCTU and all its affiliates says a ministerial committee that was set up to examine whether the ZCTU violated its constitution and/or the Labour Relations Act when it increased its affiliation fees had found that the national body had in fact violated its own constitution.
The committee also investigated the effect of the increases in affiliation fees on members and the financial status of the ZCTU and it affiliate members.
The committee was set up following complaints from some ZCTU affiliates about the manner in which the affiliate fees were increased and allegations of irregularities by the ZCTU in writing cheques.
The investigating team interviewed Nicholas Mudzengerere who was then acting secretary general and the union’s accountant on 19 June last year and took copies of documents pertinent to their investigation.
It also called 28 affiliate unions’ presidents and general secretaries on 17 September to submit their audited accounts.
The committee found that the ZCTU had violated its constitution because it did not circularise the proposed amendments to raise subscriptions from five cents to 15 cents three months before the September 1990 congress as required by section 16 (a) of its constitution.
The ZCTU, however, did not violate the Labour Relations Act as it did not require ministerial approval to increase its fees.
The committee also found that affiliate unions would have to increase union dues from members to be able to subscribe the 15 cents per member per month to the ZCTU. This increase on individual union members had an adverse effect on their incomes, the committee said.
ZCTU payments by cheques were rectified when the secretary general advised the bankers that they should accept cheques with three authorised signatories only.
The committee recommended that the ZCTU should call an extraordinary conference or congress after giving three months notice to affiliate unions if it wanted to regularise the increase of its affiliation fees from five to 15 cents. It also said the affiliate unions were not bound to pay the 15 cents until the matter had been regularised.