Zupco workers win arbitration case

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THE Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) management has been given until April 14 by the employees’ legal representative to show how much they owed to each of the 800 workers in outstanding wages after they won their arbitration case on Monday last week, businessdigest has established.

Kudzai Kuwaza

Independent arbitrator John Ndomene presided over the dispute between Zupco and its more than 800 employees.

The workers’ legal representative Exodus Donzvambeva of Wintertons Legal Practitioners wrote to the parastatal’s CEO Tendai Masaire on Tuesday this week demanding that Zupco avails to him the amounts owed to each employee following the arbitration award by Ndomene.

“In order to give effect to the award, we request that you supply us with the figures of the amounts due and owing to each of the employees according to the records which you are, by law, obliged to keep,” Donzvambeva said. “Once we get the figures we shall seek verification from our clients and if they do not agree with same we shall seek verification from our clients and if they do not agree with same we shall proceed to approach the arbitrator for quantification proceedings to be held.”

Donzvambeva said the figures should be supplied on or before April 14 2015. Should management fail to provide the information, the matter would be referred to the arbitrator for quantification without further notice to them.

In submissions to the arbitrator, the workers said Zupco has not paid outstanding salaries to the tune of US$1,3 million which accrued from 2009 and 2010 as well as April, May and June 2014. They added that food allowances for drivers and conductors remained unpaid and accrued on a daily basis.

“The respondent had even confirmed liability in this regard through a letter dated 13 August 2014, and undertook to pay the outstanding salaries, but however did not at all,” the employees said.

“The respondent’s conduct violated its obligations that it has towards employees as reiterated by McDowell’s in the Law of the Master and Servant, on page 107.”

Zupco argued in its submissions to the arbitrator that the claimants were not certain in terms of the total amount of money owed, adding that they simply stated they were owed in the region of US$1,3 million which “is too general.”

It further argued that it had come up with a payment plan to be relied on contrary to the workers’ argument. The employer said part of the arrear salaries and benefits were already under consideration at the labour court under case number LC/H/REV/77/14 thus a lis pendens preliminary issue was raised. This is a principle that stipulates that where an issue or dispute is already before a court of competent jurisdiction, that same issue cannot be brought before another court.

“Furthermore the claim did not specify which category of employees was owed how much leading to misleading conclusions,” Zupco said.

It added that the workers be paid whatever they are owed in terms of the Zupco Strategic Plan 2014-2016.
However, Ndomene did not find the company’s explanation sustainable thereby ruling in favour of the employees.
“Parties are urged to negotiate by themselves the amount owed to claimants within 14 working days, failure of which either of the parties shall revert to the arbitrator for quantification proceedings,” Ndomene ruled.

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