Employers expect court hearing soon

THE High Court application by the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) against certain amendments of the Labour Act filed late last year is expected to be heard by the court when it opens for its second term next month, businessdigest has learnt.

Kudzai Kuwaza

Speaking at a consultative meeting with employers in Harare on Wednesday, Lunga and Gonese Legal Attorneys lawyer Tambudzai Manjonjo, who is representing Emcoz in the class action, said she expects the case to be heard when the High Court begins its second term of the year next month.

“The High Court will be opening in May when, depending on the backlog, we expect the matter to be set down,” Manjonjo told employers at the meeting.

She said three labour organisations, which include the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU), which had successfully applied for a joinder to the court case, will be expected to file their heads of argument before the matter is heard in the court. Emcoz member Rose Nhamo, who is one of the representatives for employers on the Labour Law Advisory Council, said the council has been meeting every Friday since February 12 this year. She said they were now looking at the whole Labour Act instead of just the amendments made to the legislation last year after the drafters of the contributions from the three parties asked them to bring the principles guiding the draft.

Nhamo said they decided to go back to the 13 principles agreed to by government, business and labour in 2014 to guide the amendments. She added that this meant that the bottlenecks in the amended legislation that irked employers, which include compensating workers dismissed for disciplinary reasons, would remain in force.

She said that they had discussed several issues under the auspices of the Labour Law Advisory Council. Nhamo added employers wanted the minimum retrenchment package of two weeks’ salary for every year served to be acknowledged as the retrenchment package and removing the word minimum from its description.

She said labour is aggrieved that there is no provision for recourse for workers who have been retrenched while employers argue that a definitive retrenchment package would allow them to plan costs and attract foreign direct investment.

As the compromise position, Nhamo noted, labour and business agreed employers negotiate a retrenchment package for two weeks with employees which then will be referred to the national employment council and subsequently the Retrenchment Board should there be no agreement.

Nhamo said they also agreed that the streamlining of the labour dispute settlement system should be carried out by an independent body funded by government. Government, however, pointed out that they could not afford to do so, she said.