THE dispute between employees and management at the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) took another twist after the parastatal fired the Workers’ Committee chairman, Onson Mashinga last week, businessdigest has learnt.
Sources said he was fired for offence number 3,1 of the code of conduct for the transport operating industry, statutory instrument 67 of 2012, which is failure to comply with standing instructions or to follow established procedures.
Sources said Mashinga was brought before a disciplinary panel hearing last Friday where the members of the panel were split on what action to take against him before the decision was taken to sack him.
The dismissal of Mashinga has both shaken and angered employees who see the move as a way to intimidate them from pursuing their case against the company over unpaid salaries amounting to more than US$1,3 million. Some members of the workers committee are now considering stepping down fearing that they could also be in line for dismissal.
Insiders said Mashinga has been dismissed for engaging Wintertons lawyer Exodus Donzvambeva over their unpaid salaries.
In response to a July 30 letter by Donzvambeva who had given the company seven working days to pay outstanding salaries and allowances or face litigation, Zupco acting chief executive officer Tendai Masaire said Mashinga had no legal right to represent the company’s employees to sue their employer
“He (Mashinga) is the national workers committee chairperson but that does not give him powers to represent the employees outside the company,” Masaire said.
“There is no indication that every one of the employees cited in the attachment on your letter agreed or authorised him to institute legal proceedings against the company.”
Sources said the offence Mashinga was dismissed for does not warrant instant dismissal.
Instead, sources said, he was supposed to get a written warning, according to the code of conduct.
Contacted for comment, Donzvambeva expressed ignorance over Mashinga’s dismissal but said this would not stop him from getting what is owed by the company.
He said the letter he had written to the national employment council for the Transport Operating Industry to intervene in the dispute between the workers and their employer because the company had not submitted any payment plan despite promising to liquidate the debt. As a result, he said, the council would set a date for a hearing on the dispute.
In his letter to Donzvambeva, Masaire indicated that the parastatal is hamstrung by a US$15 million debt.