Trade Unions

Freedom to Join and Form a Union

The Constitution of Zimbabwe allows freedom of association to all, provided that no person may compel any other person to join an association or to attend a meeting or gathering. Except for those in security services, workers are allowed to form unions and to participate in the lawful activities of those unions and organisations.

In accordance with the Labour Act, any group of employees may form or join a trade union or employer's organization. Also, any group of trade unions or employers organizations may form a federation. The trade union is any association or organization formed to represent or advance the interests of any employees or class thereof in respect of their employment.

The union, within six months on its formation, must adopt a written constitution and submit its two copies to the Minister. Any further amendments in constitution can be submitted within a month.

Union members apply for registration by submitting an application (prescribed form) for registration to the registrar along with a copy of constitution or operational rules. The registrar publishes a notice in the Gazette and within 30 days of publication, the union gets registered.

The employer can deduct union dues from the worker's wages and transfer it to the trade union.

Source: §58 & 65(2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe (Amendment) Act, 2013; §27-55 of the Labour Act 1985

Freedom of Collective Bargaining

The Constitution recognizes the right to collective bargaining for all the workers except those who belongs to security services. Right to collective bargaining by registered trade unions, employers and employers organizations or federations is also recognized and regulated by Labour Act, 1985.

In accordance with the Labour Act, collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is an agreement negotiated in accordance with this Act which regulates the terms and conditions of employment of employees. A CBA usually provides better benefits to the worker than those provided in the law. If a CBA has provisions which are less favourable than those provided under the law, it cannot be enforced.

Parties negotiating for CBA must be represented by committees, delegates or agents. The negotiation must take place in good faith and they should disclose all the relevant information honestly.

The CBA is submitted to registrar for registration and then the Minister publishes it as a statutory agreement. A CBA becomes valid from the date of publication, unless otherwise stated in it. A copy of CBA is provided to each party and posted in a conspicuous place. A copy of CBA is also made available for examination, free of charge, on request.

CBA binds the parties to the agreement, including all the members of such parties, and all employers, contractors and their respective employees in the undertaking or industry to which the agreement relates; regardless of any change of employer or ownership or union members. The agreement is binding until it expires and get substituted by another agreement or it get terminated upon mutual agreement.

Source: §65(5) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe (Amendment) Act, 2013; §74-82 of the Labour Act 1985

Right to Strike

Right of collective job action in the form of a strike, boycott, lock-out, sit-in or sit-out, or other such concerted action is recognized and is regulated under the Constitution and Labour Act, 1985. Although Labour Act maintains the list of essential services and no collective job action may be recommended or engaged in by the persons who are engaged in an essential service however, it requires employers not to punish the striking workers and prohibits hiring of replacement workers.  Law restricts the exercise of this right in order to maintain essential services. 

Peaceful strike is allowed only after all the methods of dispute resolution (negotiation, conciliation and arbitration) fail. Union members must inform the employer, relevant council and the opposition party in writing at least 14 days prior to proposed date of strike. Reason for the strike is also mentioned in the written notification.

Strike is considered illegal if it is not peaceful and does not comply with the provisions of Labour Act. A registered trade union or workers committee may authorises a picket, i.e., peacefully persuading other workers to participate in a strike.

Source: §65(3) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe (Amendment) Act, 2013; §102-111 of the Labour Act 1985

Regulations on Trade Unions

  • Labour Act, 2005
  • Constitution of Zimbabwe (Amendment) Act, 2013
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