Understanding labour law

HARARE - A Practical Guide to Labour Law in Zimbabwe, By Caleb H Mucheche, Harare, African Legal Resources Dominion (ALRD), 2013.

The name Caleb Mucheche is perhaps not new to those who have attended court in Zimbabwe, usually as an attorney representing one or the other person in a labour case.

However, there is another side of Mucheche.

He has grown into a respectable authority in labour law having authored several reference materials on labour law.

A Practical Guide to Labour Law in Zimbabwe, with a preamble by Munyaradzi Gwisai and foreword by Advocate Thabani Mpofu, is indeed a worthwhile filler in labour law in the country.

Until recently, labour law appeared to have been confined to the periphery of law in Zimbabwe but government saw it fit to establish a labour court with its own judges making it an important pillar in legal practice in Zimbabwe.

The book identifies the key areas on which Zimbabwe’s labour law rests. It is a unique offering as it mixes the didactic and analytical approach in attempting to make the understanding of the general principles easier to grapple with.

Besides being a source of material for the labour law scholar and practitioner, the guide also becomes a platform for intellectual discussion in a remarkable effort to demystify labour law.

In past years, labour cases took very long to resolve with most taking no less than five years.

Today, with the existence of the Labour Court, cases are taking relatively less time to clear and I reckon this also has to do with the emergence of attorneys who specialise in such cases.

Mucheche’s guide would obviously complement this machinery and such even improve its capability.

The author makes extensive use of his experience as a labour law practitioner in penning this 14-chapter masterpiece.

Labour law does not only concern itself with acrimonious parting of ways between employer and employee but as the book establishes, also looks at improving employment relations.

Maybe it is important at this juncture to note that an employment relationship exists where one is engaged over a period of time, either permanently or on a part time basis, to perform a certain task or tasks for an organisation in return for agreed remuneration at certain intervals.

Both sides have expectations in this relationship.

We have often heard people say “akaenda kulabour”, literally implying the person took up his/her case with the Labour Court. Most references to the labour court and indeed labour law would therefore implicitly suggest there has been a breakdown in the employment relationship.

With Mucheche’s guide, both employer and employee get to understand three purposes of labour law and, if applied without sinister motives, is ideal in nurturing a thriving employment relationship.

Among the topics in the guide include disciplinary issues, statutory position on dismissal, the termination of a contract of employment on notice among several others which deal with instances where a better, workable relationship is sought between the two parties.

The issue of codes of conduct in employment situations has always been contentious and A Practical Guide to Labour Law in Zimbabwe does offer an informed interrogation of this rather thorny feature of industrial relations.

The collective bargaining law as well as wage negotiations in Zimbabwe is one of the key areas the book tackles as a way of improving employment relations.

The book offers definitions to some of the most common terms used in labour law, for instance collective bargaining makes life easier for those in either side of the employment relationship.

Collective bargaining is a process in terms of which employer(s) and employee(s) discuss in pursuit of reconciling their conflicting goals through a process of mutual accommodation.

“Unlike mere consultations therefore, collective bargaining assumes a willingness on each side not only to listen to the representatives of the other but also to abandon fixed positions where possible in order to find common ground.” p26

Mucheche’s book offers extensive use of cases making the understanding of key topics easier.

It is on the strength of this unique character of the book that makes it invaluable.

As such it should not be absent on any person’s book shelf.

Caleb Mucheche is a registered legal practitioner, conveyancer, notary public, arbitrator among the many hats he wears as well as the co-founding partner for Matsikidze and Mucheche Legal Practitioners, Commercial and Labour Law Chambers.

He is a born-again Christian  and an elder in the Zaoga Forward in Faith International Ministries in Chisipite district.

Comments (2)

Yes labour cases can be fastly dealt with in labour court but more delay is done when there is any appeal to a high court. most employers are more happier on the creation of labour court because they know its another resting place as they try to delay the process and appeal after the labour court judgment. i wish the creation was meant to strengthern it as the last court of appeal for labour cases after abitration but its unfortunate its only a resting place for parastatals like zimpost which appeal and appeal since 2009.

zimpost - 4 February 2014

Thanks Mr Mucheche for taking Labour Law into greater heights to advance democratic socio-economic independence and enhance social justice within the employment sector.

King Mugabe - 5 March 2014

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