Social justice in the workplace
Interview with Ms Rumbidzai KATSANDE, HR & Labour Specialist and Secretary General of the Employment Council for the Harare Municipal Undertaking, Ministry of Labour. Participant in programme “Strengthening and Re-engineering Labour Administration and Labour Inspection”, Turin, 10 to 21 November 2014
Can you tell our readers about the role of the National Employment Council in Harare, and your role in particular?
The National Employment Council for the Harare Municipal Undertaking advances social justice and democracy in the workplace by:
- Giving effect to the fundamental rights of employees provided for in the ILO labour standards, as ratified and enshrined in both the National Constitution and labour law;
- Providing a legal framework within which employees and employers can bargain collectively for the improvement of conditions of employment;
- Promoting fair labour standards;
- Promoting employees’ participation in decisions affecting their interests in the workplace;
- Enforcing legal provisions, i.e. securing the fair, effective and expeditious resolution of disputes and unfair labour practices.
My role as Secretary General is to provide technical support and advice to employers, workers and their respective organizations on request. I participate in the preparation, coordination, and review of industrial labour policies. I am responsible for managing labour inspections and dispute resolution systems. I research and recommend policy changes and strategies in operational and organizational structures. I am also responsible for coordinating capacity-building activities for both the National Employment Council and industry.
What does social justice mean to you?
Social justice is promoting a just workplace by challenging injustice and valuing diversity. In the workplace we achieve this by giving effect to the fundamental principles and rights of employees, such as freedom of association and collective bargaining; entitlement to membership of trade unions and workers committees; prohibition of forced labour and child labour; protection of employees against discrimination; protection of their right to fair labour standards; and democracy in the workplace.
How do you formulate your campaigns and programmes? Who has a say in what they should be and how they should be run?
Procedurally, I report to the board after analysing data from inspectorates. My report is based on the analysis of trends, the nature of cases and disputes handled, the interventions made, and needs assessments. I make recommendations on campaigns and programmes and how they should be undertaken to achieve the set of objectives deriving from the needs assessment. The Board Research, Publicity, Training and Events Committee then adopts the campaigns and programme recommendations. After adoption, campaigns and programmes are formulated into the budget which the Finance Committee will provide for the allocation of resources. Strategically, the budget is drawn up together with the organization annual strategic plan. I then take all administrative and management decisions as to the design and facilitation of those programmes among other strategic plans. This includes the implementation and evaluation of such campaigns and programmes with a further report to the Board.
For instance, we have launched campaigns and programmes on occupational safety and health including training for representatives of workers, management and Councillors. Training was facilitated in conjunction with NSSA, the specialised authority on OSH matters.
Other campaigns dealt with “Training of disciplinary committees on code of conduct”, “Trained management and workers’ representatives on labour matters”, “Trained employer and employee representatives on collective bargaining and the role of labour market institutions applicable to Harare such as NEC and Central Works Council”, “Awareness campaigns on the rights of employees”.
What other kinds of organizations do you perceive as working for the same goals you are?
The International Labour Organization and other National Employment Councils for various sectors with support from the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Social Services.
What are the possible benefits of your participation in the recent course in Turin?
The course was informative on both labour administration and labour inspection issues. I benefited with regard to the need to strengthen and re-engineer labour administration and labour inspection. My feedback report will advise the social partners in Harare on the need to engage in social dialogue to come up with a labour inspection policy in the form of a CBA to complement and add to national legislation in empowering industry inspectors. The policy should specify the ethical conduct of employer and workers, the investigative powers of inspectors and the penalties to be issued for all defaults. In my view this will strengthen labour inspection in Harare.
In my view, there is need for reform in labour inspection regulations at the national level to strengthen the inspectorate and ensure it is independent from social partners in terms of their contracts and economic dependency. The case studies for Brazil, Italian and UK inspections were more informative on the inspection structure for both OSH and labour administration. I intend to write a paper for consideration by the Ministry of Labour during the current reform exercise.
I also benefited from the contents related to labour standards, and labour administration in the context of labour reform, resources, work organization and workflow, management and setting of goals for labour administration.
The role of labour administration in the area of social protection, a presentation by Luisa Guimaraes, cannot be left untouched. It was an emotional presentation that left me with a passion to come back and fast track the registration of the Trust Deed for the employees of the city of Harare, which was underway by the time I attended the course.
All presentations were relevant to me and it was a matter of copying more developed or new concepts and incorporating them into my country and organization’s systems.