The engineering industry in Zimbabwe evolved as a manufacturing and servicing network to support early efforts to develop the country’s natural resources: Agriculture, Mining, Tourism, Infrastructure, commerce etc. The enabling structures of engineering became a core sector of the economy and progressively embraced metal extraction and refining, alloying, foundries, fabricating, machining assembly; all adding value, creating companies, jobs and demand for skills.
In 1937 as labour became unionized and the industry became more sophisticated, it was evident that industrial relations would become central to creating growth and stability in the economy. So a group of industrialists come together to form the Engineering Employers Association (EEAZ), which became officially recognised as the employer party to the National Employment Council (NEC) for the Engineering Iron and Steel Industry. The employer and employee party (National Engineering Workers Union) came together frequently and maintained a constructive engagement in negotiating over many years the industry’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
Within the EEAZ now (EISAZ) several initiatives were introduced by member companies to expand the activities of the Association to address issues affecting their industry. These were business matters beyond the scope of the CBA, requiring a range of skills embracing experience and a track record of executive performance across the engineering industry. As a consequence, in 1999 a consultant reviewed the structure of the Association and recommended a revised constitution which would enable it to expand its services to members beyond those of the CBA, whilst retaining the key responsibility of representing member companies as the employer party at the National Employment Council in the Engineering Iron and Steel Industry (NEC).
This development opened up both opportunities and challenges, and the revised constitution gave birth to the Engineering Iron and Steel Association of Zimbabwe (EISAZ). New challenges to our members required a fresh approach to business matters and a high powered committee was formed within EISAZ known as the Business Council and manned by Managing Director – level executives. The tasks of the council spanned a range of issues which are not limited to CBA matters, but embrace the current problems of capacity utilisation, productivity, competitiveness, skills retention and others.