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The 2015 Labour Ruling was arrived at following a dispute between ZUVA Petroleum and its employees Don Nyamande and Kingstone Donga who were challenging the termination of their contracts under unfair circumstances and short notice. Zuva was represented by Kuwadzana legislator Nelson Chamisa and fellow advocate Thabani Mpofu while the aggrieved employees were under counsel of Lovemore Madhuku and Caleb Mucheche .

Contents

Circumstances Around the Ruling

After the case was tabled before the Supreme Court, the court ruled in favour of ZUVA noting that the petroleum company acted accordingly when it dismissed it employees after issuing a three months notice.[1] Defending the dismissed workers was constitutional law expert and University of Zimbabwe lecturer, Lovemore Madhuku alongside Caleb Mucheche. The Supreme in delivering its ruling highlighted that “Except where a longer period of notice has been provided under a contract of employment or in any relevant enactment, and subject to subsections (5), (6) and (7), notice of termination of the contract of employment to be given by either party shall be —


Justice Chidyausiku also pointed out that, "It is for these reasons that I agree with the conclusion of the Labour Court that the respondent was entitled at law to give notice terminating the employment of the appellants in terms of the contracts of employment between the parties,”

Controversy

The most controversial part in the ruling was the involvement of Nelson Chamisa who was defending ZUVA petroleum yet he hails from a political party whose founding was based on worker's grievances in the period around 1997 and 1998. The party has also been widely viewed as pro labour such that the involvement of Chamisa had attracted a lot of criticism from labour groups, many of who were very critical in the formation of the MDC.[1]

Robert Mugabe's Response

Weeks after the Labour Ruling President Robert Mugabe was quoted as saying his government will soon amend the labour law which disadvantages workers.[2]

Constitutional Court Ruling

The two former ZUVA Petroleum workers submitted an appeal to the Zimbabwe Constitutional Court in July 2015. The appeal was nullified because the complainants had no right to appeal. Justice Veranda Ziyambi who was presiding over the case mentioned that an appeal can only be noted at the Constitutional Court when the Supreme Court is alleged to have erred in determining some constitutional issues raised before it. The Constitutional Court on 5 August 2015 upheld the Supreme Court ruling.[3]

Ripple Effects of the Ruling

Following the passage of the ruling by the Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku and four other judges, there were numerous cases that were reported of employees being dismissed countrywide. Some of the companies mentioned in the wave of dismissals included Steward Bank which had fired as many as 50 of its employees.[1] There were also widespread fears around the working community that they would be victimised by their employers since they were no longer protected by law. Barely a fortnight after the ruling, it was estimated that at least 400 hundred employees had been sacked.[4]

Companies Invoked Ruling

Alpha Media Holdings

The company that publishes NewsDay, The Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard newspapers, reportedly fired five journalists and sixteen newspaper inserters in July 2015 using this Supreme Court ruling.[5]

Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe

The publishers of the Daily News fired 11 journalists and other supporting staff using the same ruling.[5]

Pelhams

The company is reported to have relieved 110 workers of their duties following the Supreme Court ruling. Pelhams had been struggling to pay its workers and had 18 months' salary arrears and is believed to have seen the ruling as a "golden opportunity" to dismiss workers. It is alleged that, most of the dismissed workers received letters dated 17 July which is the date on which the landmark ruling was delivered.[6]

Steward Bank

The financial institution has reportedly fired 50 employees since the landmark ruling. It was reported that the dismissed workers would get their July salary as well as a combined three months salary as part of the dismissal package.[6]

TN Harlequin

The company, through its Human Resources Officer, Fungai Nyambirai, terminated contracts for almost all the workers using the same ruling. The dismissed workers were reportedly going to receive the three months notice pay at the end of each of the three months.[6]

Croco Motors

The motor vehicle dealer reportedly sent an unknown number of workers packing in July 2015, following the Supreme Court ruling.[6]

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe

The largest mobile network services provider in Zimbabwe dismissed an unknown number of employees in July 2015. The affected workers were promised to be paid their dues on or before 31 July 2015.[7]

Aviation Ground Services

The company which operates at the Harare International Airport handed dismissal letters to an unknown number of workers citing the same ruling as grounds for dismissal.[7]

Zimoco

The Mercedes Benz dealer reportedly dismissed an unknown number of workers using the landmark ruling.[7]

Sino Zim Cotton Holdings Private Limited

The joint venture company between Zimbabwe and China dismissed 400 workers on notice a few days after the landmark ruling in July 2015.[8] This is the highest reported number of dismissed workers since the landmark ruling.

Zimbabwe Pharmaceuticals

In July 2015, the Bulawayo based company dismissed 10 workers among them a longest serving member who has been with the company for 27 years.[9]

Monarch

The Treger Products subsidiary sent an undisclosed number of its employees home at the end of July 2015.[10]

Financial Gazette

The independent newspaper owned by former RBZ Governor Gideon Gono, reported in it 30 July publication that it will be down-sizing 35% of its workers across the board.[11]

Choppies Zimbabwe

The supermarket which is reported to have Zimbabwe's Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko as a major share holder, reportedly fired 100 of its workers from its security department in July 2015.[12]

Unilever Zimbabwe

The multi-national company sacked 186 employees in early August 2015, using the Supreme Court ruling.[13]

Moonlight Funeral Assurance and Services

The company is reported to have sent 100 of its workers home on 3 August 2015.[13]

Sakunda Holdings

The fuel company is said to have dismissed 80 of its workers, mainly truck drivers by early August 2015.[13]

Regency Group of Hotels

The group which is part of Zvobgo Holdings, sacked 251 of its workers. Workers at Flamboyant, Chevron, Panyanda hotels, Ritz Night Club in Masvingo and Fairmile Hotel in Gweru were served with letters terminating their contracts in July 2015. No one was spared in this retrenchment process as the CEO to the lowest ranked employee were given three months notices.[13]

Zimasco

The Chinese owned steel company is reported to have dismissed an undisclosed number of its employees using the same ruling.[14]

Zimsteel Zimbabwe

The steel company formally known as Zisco Steel is reported to have retrenched an undisclosed number of workers using the Supreme Court ruling.[14]

Pioneer Freight

The transport company was reported to have fired an undisclosed number of employees as of August 2015.[14]

Crest Poultry Group

Crest Poultry Group joined the firing bandwagon in August 2015 as it handed an undisclosed number of its employees with dismissal letters.[14]

General Engineering Private Limited

The engineering company laid off an undisclosed number of employees in July 2015.[14]

Goal Zimbabwe

The non governmental organisation sacked an undisclosed number of its employees following the Supreme Court ruling in July 2015.[14]

Clover Leaf Motors

The motor giant laid off an undisclosed number of its employees in July 2015.[14]

Zimbabwe Christian College

The tertiary institution handed termination letters to an unknown number of employees in July 2015.[14]

BlueLine Dry Cleaners

The dry cleaning company is also among one of the companies that invoked the supreme court ruling and sent an undisclosed number of employees packing in July 2015.[14]

Granary Investments

Granary Investments sent an undisclosed number of employees home in July 2015.[14]

Metropolitan Bank

The financial institution reportedly sent an unknown number of employees packing in July 2015 using the supreme court ruling.[14]

MedTech

The company according to labour unions sent an undisclosed number of employees home in July 2015.[14]

Windmill

The fertilizer company sent an undisclosed number of workers home in July 2015.[14]

Rainbow Tourism Group

In August 2015, the Rainbow Tourism Group dismissed scores of its employees. As part of the dismissal package the workers were to receive their housing and transport allowances, medical aid and funeral cover for three months ending in October 2015.[15]

Apollo Tyres Zimbabwe

The tyre company is reported to have served an undisclosed number of employees using the July 2015 Supreme Court Ruling.[15]

Farm and City

The agricultural inputs trader allegedly sacked an undisclosed number of workers in July 2015.[15]

Meikels

Meikels reportedly sent an undisclosed number of its employees packing in July 2015.[15]

TN Asset Management

The subsidiary of Econet Zimbabwe reportedly served an undisclosed number of its employees in July 2015.[15]

Bata Shoe Company

The country's largest leather shoe manufacturer offloaded 150 employees in August 2015 among them the vice chairman of the workers' committee and long serving members.[16]

Harare City Council

In late August 2015, the Harare City Council intended to fire 3 000 of its workers using the Supreme Court Ruling.[17] However, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Saviour Kasukuwere stopped the sackings and demanded the City Council to cut down on hefty salaries for executives.[18] However Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi was sent packing using the Supreme Court ruling.[19]

Chitungwiza City Council

Chitungwiza City Council fired 236 workers in late August 2015. The move targeted the town's defunct liquor department, workers facing disciplinary issues and those that were illegally employed in 2011.[20]

Celsys Limited

In July 2015, the company sent dozens of its workers packing using the Supreme Court Ruling.[21]

Mike Apel

The company joined the firing bandwagon in July 2015 sending an undisclosed number of its employees home using the Supreme Court ruling.[21]

AgriFoods

The company fired an undisclosed number of its employees in July 2015.[21]

State Enterprises

State enterprises and parastatals also joined the bandwagon of firms firing employees using this Supreme Court ruling.

Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara)

The parastatal confirmed that it had laid off 50 of its workers. However unconfirmed reports suggested that 300 were sent home.[14] Top managers were among the fired and it was reported that the retrenchment was done to reduce administration costs.[10]

CMED Private Limited

Confirmed reports confirmed that the state department had fired 200 of its workers using the landmark ruling.[14]

National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ)

Though the state enterprise denied that its retrenchment exercise was based on the Supreme Court ruling, it was reported to have fired more than 300 employees.[14] It was further reported that the parastatal aimed to fire 1,500 workers at the end of the retrenchment exercise.[10] The NRZ also closed the Inspectorate Services and Research and Design and Development sections following reports that up to 1,200 employees would have their employment contracts terminated by the end of the first week of August 2015.[22]

Air Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwe national airline was said to served 100 of its employees with termination letters.[14] Further reports suggested that the national airliner was conducting consultations on how to fire more its workers.[10]

Zimpost

The parastatal was reported to have fired an undisclosed number of its employees by the end of July 2015.[14] Media reports suggested that the post and telecommunications company had fired 200 of its employees in August 2015.[23]

Nyadire Teachers College

The teachers institution is reported to have joined the firing frenzy as it dismissed an undisclosed number of employees following the labour ruling in July.[14]

Zimpapers

The publishers of The Herald, the Sunday Mail and the Chronicle newspapers retrenched about 150 of its staff in August 2015.[24]

Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation

The state broadcaster fired 4 of its suspended top officials that include; chief executive officer Happyson Muchechetere, former General Manager (Finance) Elliot Kasu, ex-General Manager (Radio Services) Allan Chiweshe, and Head (Finance) Ralph Nyambudzi using the Supreme Court ruling.[24] In August 2015, ZBC fired a further 300 employees using the same ruling. This resulted in the closing of Gweru based radio station Voice of Zimbabwe and the technical shut down of Channel Two as well as the kitchen. Among the fired were Rumbidzai Takawira, Evermore Sandati, Lennon Mutseura and Fletcher Ndhlovu.[25]

Draft Bill

A new draft bill was drafted in August 2015 as a measure to change the Labour Act that had resulted in the massive job losses.[26]

New Labour Act

Following the passing of the Labour Act Bill in Parliament, the President Robert Mugabe signed it into law on 26 August 2015.[27]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Lance Guma Chamisa “worked to defeat working class”, Nehanda Radio, Published: July 21, 2015, Retrieved: July 23, 2015
  2. President reassures workers, blasts law, Herald, Published: July 30, 2015, Retrieved: July 31, 2015
  3. LATEST: ConCourt dismisses Zuva Petroleum managers' appeal, Herald, Published: August 5, 2015, Retrieved: August 5, 2015
  4. The Herald, Published: July 23, 2015, Retrieved: July 23, 2015
  5. 5.0 5.1 Fungai Lupande, NewsDay fires journalists, inserters, Herald, Published: July 29, 2015, Retrieved: July 29, 2015
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Daniel Nemukuyu, Ruling triggers fierce job losses. Companies fire hundreds since Friday. Urgent Govt intervention sought, Herald, Published: July 21, 2015, Retrieved: July 29, 2015
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Elita Chikwati and Diana Nherera, Cabinet to discuss workers' sackings. Over 400 more given the boot. Econet, Zimoco join bandwagon, Herald, Published: July 23, 2015, Retrieved: July 29, 2015
  8. Supreme Court ruling: Sino-Zim firm fires 400 workers, New Zimbabwe, Published: July 22, 2015, Retrieved: July 29, 2015
  9. Supreme court ruling horror: 1500 Zimbabweans fired in days, Econet fires too, My Zimbabwe, Published: July 23, 2015, Retrieved: July 29, 2015
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Mashudu Netsianda and Tendai Mugabe, Parastatals join firing frenzy...Zinara retrenches 49 employees, Published: August 3, 2015, Retrieved: August 3, 2015
  11. Fingaz Right-Sizing Operations, Financial Gazette, Published: July 30, 2015, Retrieved: August 3, 2015
  12. Richard Chidza, Mphoko fires 100, Published: August 2, 2015, Retrieved: August 3, 2015
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 18,000 Workers Fired So Far, Harare Times, Published: August 3, 2015, Retrieved: August 5, 2015
  14. 14.00 14.01 14.02 14.03 14.04 14.05 14.06 14.07 14.08 14.09 14.10 14.11 14.12 14.13 14.14 14.15 14.16 14.17 14.18 Tendai Mugabe, State entities join firing bandwagon, Herald, Published: August 3, 2015, Retrieved: August 3, 2015
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 Pamela Shumba, RTG joins firing spree, Chronicle, Published: August 5, 2015, Retrieved: August 5, 2015
  16. BATA fires 150, News dzeZimbabwe, Published: August 9, 2015, Retrieved: August 13, 2015
  17. Innocent Ruwende, Council fires 3 000 workers, Herald, Published: August 19, 2015, Retrieved: August 19, 2015
  18. Nyemudzai Kakore, 'Stop sackings'...Minister saves 3,000 city workers, Chronicle, Published: August 20, 2015, Retrieved: August 28, 2015
  19. Xolisani Ncube/Moses Matenga, Mahachi 'fired', NewsDay, Published: August 27, 2015, Retrieved: August 28, 2015
  20. Moses Matenga, Chitungwiza fires 236 workers, NewsDay, Published: August 28, 2015, Retrieved: August 28, 2015
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Felex Share, Supreme Court ruling costs nearly 6 000 jobs, Herald, Published: July 25, 2015, Retrieved: August 19, 2015
  22. Tatira Zwinoira, Zinara sends workers packing, The Standard, Published: August 2, 2015, Retrieved: August 3, 2015
  23. Masline Mavudzi, 200 lose jobs at Zimpost, Herald, Published: August 20, 2015, Retrieved: August 20, 2015
  24. 24.0 24.1 Herald, ZBC retrench hundreds of employees, Daily News, Published: August 8, 2015, Retrieved: August 11, 2015
  25. 300 ZBC fired as the state broadcaster takes after other govt entities, New Zimbabwe, Published: August 12, 2015, Retrieved: August 13, 2015
  26. Paidamoyo Muzulu, Good news for fired workers, Standard, Published: August 16, 2015, Retrieved: August 17, 2015
  27. Farirayi Machivenyika, President signs Labour Act, Herald, Published: August 28, 2015, Retrieved: August 28, 2015