Windmill takes labour dispute to ConCourt

FERTILISER manufacturer Windmill (Pvt) Ltd has applied to take the dispute between the company and dismissed workers owing to last year’s Supreme Court ruling empowering firms to fire staff on three months notice to the Constitutional Court, businessdigest has learnt.

By Kudzai Kuwaza

Sources said this week that the workers, who were dismissed after the July 17 Supreme Court ruling which allowed employers to dismiss workers on three months’ notice without a retrenchment package, are demanding either to be reinstated or compensated. The workers’ demands come as a result of the amendment to the Labour Act which mandated employers to pay dismissed workers a retrenchment package of two weeks for every year served.

The workers took the issue to the National Employment Council arguing that owing to amendments to the Labour Act, their dismissals had been nullified. The NEC then ordered that Windmill either reinstate the dismissed workers or compensate them including terminal benefits.

“The NEC, as mandated by the law, wanted to take the award to the Labour Court for confirmation purposes when Windmill opposed,” an insider revealed. “Not only did Windmill oppose the application for confirmation, they also lodged a cross application for referral to the Constitutional Court. Windmill is arguing that the constitutional matters around the issue must be determined first.”

Windmill CE George Rundogo confirmed that they downsized workforce last year, adding they had done so within the confines of the law.

“I wish to confirm that indeed Windmill reduced employment numbers last year. The process was done within the confines of the law and the company will continue to resolve any matters arising as provided for by the country’s laws,” Rundogo said. “As the matter for some of the former employees is still before the courts I am unable to comment further as the matter is sub-judice.”

Employers have appealed to the High Court against various sections of the amended legislation including that which compels them to compensate workers they dismissed on three months’ notice without a retrenchment package as permitted by a July 17 Supreme Court ruling this year. The case is yet to be heard.