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Alpha Media Holdings Fires Workers as Labor Bill Awaits Mugabe's Signature

President Robert Mugabe is expected to sign the Labor Amendment Bill into law anytime soon.

Alpha Media Holdings, publishers of The Standard, Independent and Newsday newspapers, has joined the race to fire employees ahead of the presidential assent to the Labor Amendment Bill that seeks to make it harder for employers to fire workers, by sending 24 people, including journalists, home.

Some of the affected journalists told VOA they were given their termination letters late Friday after producing enough copy of tomorrow’s publications.

“We were beginning to think that we at the AMH were safe but unfortunately our bosses have decided to fire us ahead of the Bill being signed into law by the President,” one shocked journalist said.

Over 20,000 workers from both the private sector and state-owned firms have been fired since a Supreme Court ruling on July 17 allowing employers to fire workers on three months’ notice resulting in Parliament being called from recess to debate crucial amendments to the country’s labor laws to stem the sackings.

The Bill has since passed through both houses of Parliament and President Robert Mugabe is expected to sign the bill into law any time soon.

Other media houses that have also fired employees following the Supreme Court ruling include the state-controlled Zimpapers news stable, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and The Daily News.

Meanwhile, local government, public works and national housing minister Saviour Kasukuwere has moved to stop the Chinhoyi Municipality from its plan to fire over 200 workers.

Town Clerk Mungororo Mungazi confirmed letters had been given to 124 workers, adding his council was not firing but terminating contracts of those employees, including two senior departmental heads.

“This is not a dismissal but rather the exercise of our right under the common law which allow either party to terminate the employment contract on notice,” Mazai wrote in the letter to affected employees.

The council also ordered the fired workers to stop coming to work and to surrender all council property but Kasukuwere was having none of that saying they would all be reinstated immediately.

Parliament has in the meantime approved the labor amendment bill which seeks to make it harder to fire workers. President Robert Mugabe is expected to sign the bill into law any time soon.

Kasukuwere said the same reasons he gave for stopping the MDC-T-run Harare City Council from firing over 3,000 workers this week, apply to all the other local authorities in the country.

He said the councils could not fire the workers when government and parliament were in the process of rectifying the labour amendment bill.

"We will not allow the firing of workers willy-nilly like that," Kasukuwere told VOA Studio 7. "I will not have accepted that move by local authorities using lowly-paid workers as scapegoats for failing to deliver while those at the echelons of the local authorities continue to earn too much money."

He said he would only support plans aimed at revamping the countries cities and towns and not the firing of workers in their numbers .