Net*One loses case against workers


Godfrey Marawanyika

NET*ONE has lost its case at the Labour Tribunal and has been ordered to reinstate workers fired in May last year without loss of salary and benefits.
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The Labour Tribunal ruled that the 56 workers be paid all their dues with effect from the date of dismissal.


Net*One suspended the workers citing Section 12B of the Labour Relations Act, saying the employees were absent from work for a period of five or more days without leave of absence or reasonable cause.


At the hearing, Net*One was represented by managing director Reward

Kangai, Lyndon Nkomo (company secretary), Emerinzia Mapurisa (human resources manager) and Joseph Chitendera, employee relations officer.


Lovemore Matombo, Ronald Musiwokuvenga and Godfrey Sipanera were appellants for the workers.


The matter went to court after a dispute over the collective bargaining exercise last year.


In their submissions, the workers said they initiated their first quarter negotiations but felt that management was taking too long, which led to the employees seeking assistance from their union.


The union said they tried to engage management which refused to negotiate but instead opted to discuss with the workers’ committee.

The workers were represented by Advocate Edith Mushore whilst Net*One was represented by Tendai Biti.


“The notice was given on May 20 2004,” the arbitration award said in summarising the workers’ submissions.


“They said at the expiry of the 14 days notice, Net*One forced their workers’ committee to negotiate, prompting the workers’ committee to resign en mass. Although the resignation could have warranted them to immediately resort to collective action in terms of Section 104 (4) (b), they decided to stick to their notice.”


The employers had submitted that approximately 80 people went on strike and out of those, 53 were dismissed after going through hearings.


Management raised a point in “limine” as to why the employers should be heard as a group instead of individually.


Management also submitted that they had been cautious in their wage reviews heeding calls by central bank governor Gideon Gono to exercise restraint to contain inflation.


The workers said when they were in the process of approving the second quarter reviews their board was dissolved before giving them the mandate to conclude the negotiations.


Management had also argued that on June 15, some employees decided to withdraw their services prompting the organisation to charge the perpetrators in terms of Statutory Instrument 130 of 2003.


“They submitted that they received a collective job action notice on May 20, 2004 and they in turn engaged in negotiations on June 3 2004,” the arbitration award said.


In her ruling on the case on Thursday last week, Ms Kanyani said the dismissal of the workers was unfair since the employer was notified of the collective job action well in advance.