THE workers’ representative body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, has approached the Constitutional Court to have sections of the Labour Act which were amended in 2015 struck off, arguing they are unconstitutional.
In the court application, ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo cited Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira and Attorney-General Prince Machaya as first and second respondents respectively.
“The applicant is making this constitutional application in terms of Section 85(1)(e) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, 2013 seeking a declaration by the Honourable Court in exercise of its jurisdiction in terms of Section 17(1)(c) of the constitution,” Moyo, who is represented by Lovemore Madhuku lawyers in the court application dated May 26 2017, said: “It is seeking an order declaring Sections 12C(3) and 93(5a) of the Labour Act (Chapter 28:01) unconstitutional, null and void as contraventions of Sections 56 and 69 of the constitution, 2013.”
He said following the July 17 2015 Supreme Court ruling which allowed employers to dismiss workers on three months’ notice without paying a retrenchment package, 20 000 members of the workers’ representative body lost their jobs. Moyo pointed out in the application that the amended act No. 5 of 2015 introduced new Sections 12C(3) and 93(5a) into the Labour Act which he said “have brought their own untold injustice in the labour world and are adversely affecting applicant’s members”.
“An employee who has been retrenched is entitled to a minimum retrenchment package. Notwithstanding the centrality of a retrenchment package to a person who has lost a job, the person may lose the enjoyment of a statutory right at the instance of a mere committee called a ‘Retrenchment Board’.
“A statutory right is lost at the instance of a body that is not a court?,” Moyo said in the application of some of the adverse effects of the sections they are seeking to nullify. “As if the above is not enough, there is no specific right for the person involved to be heard by the Retrenchment Board nor is there a right of appeal for the employee.”
Moyo pointed out that as long as Sections 12C(3) and 93(5a) remained on the statutes, many more of their members will not get minimum retrenchment packages and will continue to be deprived of the benefits of rulings made in their favour by labour officers.
“Applicant therefore has a real and substantial interest in a determination of the constitutionality of Sections 12(C) and 93(5a) of the Labour Act (Chapter 28:01) in the interests of its members,” Moyo wrote in the application. This comes at a time when government, business and labour are engaged in negotiations to amend the entire Labour Act with a draft prepared for discussion by the three social partners. — Staff Writer.