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Zimbabwe Government Aims to Increase Workers' Protections

FILE - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe waits to address crowds gathered for Zimbabwe's Heroes Day commemorations in Harare, Aug. 10, 2015.

President Robert Mugabe has recalled Zimbabwe's parliament from its recess to amend the country's labor laws, but unions say they are not behind the government's push.

The new labor law is aimed at stopping Zimbabwean employers from firing employees with little notice and no severance packages.

Last month, the country's Supreme Court ruled employers are allowed to fire workers with no severance as long as they give three months' notice. Since then, several companies, including state owned, have terminated workers and left them empty-handed.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions said more than 20,000 workers have been affected.

New workers' law

The proposed new law says an employer can only terminate a contract by mutual agreement or if the employee has been found guilty of misconduct.

Otherwise, the workers receive two weeks' pay for every year they served.

Japhet Moyo, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary general, said the government, however, did not consult workers on the proposed labor law.

"We seem to be sidelined. We have looked at the bill. In fact there are more negative things in that bill than what people are reading in the press," he said.

'Not happy'

"People are concentrating on one provision, the provision to do with termination of employment. So we are not happy with the way the envisaged act is structured right as we speak now,” Moyo said.

Specifically, Moyo said if the law is passed, the government would be allowed to control trade unions and interfere in the affairs of unions in Zimbabwe.

But that might seem secondary to workers who are interested in keeping their jobs secure, or at least get a severance package if their contract is terminated.