Over 9 000 workers dismissed in 2015

MORE than 9 000 workers countrywide were dismissed using last year’s Supreme Court ruling, which allowed employers to fire employees on three months’ notice, contrary to claims by trade unions that nearly 30 000 were affected, according to a survey by employers.

By Kudzai Kuwaza

The survey was carried out by the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) late last year. According to the survey, 9 115 were fired with 1 985 workers dismissed in the public sector and 2 237 in parastatals, bringing the total number to 4 222 in state-owned organisations. The private sector dismissed 4 893 workers, according to the findings of the survey.

Emcoz executive director John Mufukare told businessdigest last week that the survey had been necessitated by the need to establish just how many workers had been affected by the ruling, with trade unions estimating that between
25 000 and 30 000 workers had been affected.

“We carried out a survey throughout the country to establish how many workers were really affected by the court ruling and found there were 9 115 registered cases,” Mufukare said. “It is far less than the number of 30 000 that was being communicated. Our question was where did those 30 000 come from.”

Alarmed by the huge number of job losses, government last year amended the Labour Act, which outlawed the dismissals on three months’ notice among other changes. The changes, however, outraged employers.

In its application filed at the High Court in September 2015, employers said there were many areas in the Labour Amendment Act that needed revisiting by the courts, taking into account the country’s constitution.

“This is an application for a declaration of the constitutional invalidity of certain provisions of the Labour Amendment Act No 5 of 2015,” Mufukare said in his founding affidavit.

“I am prepared to go further to aver that this limitation came about through an arbitrary process of legislating, a knee-jerk reaction by the state to what it perceived as a social ill. That the process of legislating the Amendment Act was reactionary is evidenced in the lack of thinking, consultation and research required to guide government action and lawmaking.”

The appeal is yet to be heard with expectations that this will be done when the High Court begins its second term next month.