Drop court case, govt tells employers

Katsande told business that it was inappropriate that employers are still in the courts against government at a time when they are trying to find each other.

GOVERNMENT has asked employers to drop their court case in which they are appealing against some of the amendments to the amended Labour Act, businessdigest has established.

By Kudzai Kuwaza

Among some of the clauses being contested by employers at the High Court, is one which mandates them to compensate workers they dismissed using the Supreme Court ruling of July 17 by paying two weeks’ salary for every year served.

The ruling allowed them to lay off workers on three months’ notice without paying a retrenchment package.
The request by government was made when they met business and labour on Thursday last week at a Tripartite Negotiating Forum technical committee meeting chaired by the deputy chief secretary to the President and Cabinet, Christian Katsande.

“Katsande told business that it was inappropriate that employers are still in the courts against government at a time when they are trying to find each other,” an insider revealed. “Employers responded by saying that the court case is the only thing that is stopping workers from coming to demand compensation which will lead to many companies liquidating their operations. Government thinks that employers are exaggerating the impact of paying that compensation.”

There was also no movement on the issue of retrenchment during the four hour meeting.

Business and labour are also not agreed on the proposal, which stipulates that if an employer applies to the Retrenchment Board for exemption.from paying a severance package and does not get a response from the board in 14 days, the application should be deemed to have been accepted.

The other issue where the parties differ is the appeal process to the Retrenchment Board in the event of disagreements on severance package between employers and employees. Employers are in favour of making the decision reached by the board to be final. Labour, however, insists that workers should have the right to appeal if they are not happy with the decision of the Retrenchment Board.