EMPLOYERS Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) president Israel Murefu says the introduction of key policies by the government without consulting the populace is a hindrance to the collective bargaining process.

Collective bargaining is a process of negotiation between employers and a group of employees aimed at coming up with agreements to regulate workers’ salaries, working conditions, benefits, and other aspects of workers’ compensation and rights.

Speaking at the Emcoz collective bargaining summit in Mutare last week, Murefu said it was very important for the government to consult the people during policymaking because they (people) were the ones being affected by the policy changes.

He also highlighted that the ever-increasing exchange rate had become a menace to the collective bargaining process.

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“The exchange rate historically was not an issue in our collective bargaining processes, but it has become an issue because of certain policies that have been put in place by the authorities to change currency without consulting the people who are affected by the changes.

“Let’s say, a company that was running its business in forex and is in the business of importing and sells items in US dollars and then all of a sudden it is told you can no longer trade in US dollars, yet that has been the mainstay of that person’s business.

“It means that person is out of business completely, yet you have a workforce that has to be paid and that is a problem, so that is why it is important to have consultation before some of these big decisions are made.”

Murefu also highlighted that productivity had been the missing benchmark in the collective bargaining process.

“It is important to understand productivity and how to measure and understand it, because employers can only pay out of value that has been created and value is created through productivity. If you have not created value, it is difficult to imagine the source of resources you are going to use to remunerate you employees. So more attention should be paid to productivity,” Murefu said.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union vice-president, however, said it was difficult to improve productivity seeing that the current economic situation had significantly diminished workers salaries.

“The workers were used to earning a minimum of US$400 and this has now been reduced to less than US$30 so that worker needs to survive. So you cannot expect productivity from someone who is ailing and demotivated.”

Chirenda also said that it was important for employers to empower their workers.

“So you have to incentivise your employees for them to be productive. Employers have to empower their workers because if employees are able to buy, then what you are producing becomes relevant and productive,” Chirenda said.