Bata loses salary appeal

HARARE - Zimbabwe Bata Shoe Company Limited (Bata) has lost a Supreme Court appeal in which it was seeking to get reprieve against increasing its employees’ salaries.

In the application, Bata cited the National Employment Council (Nec) chairman for the leather industry and Zimbabwe Leather and Allied Workers Union as respondents.

Bata appealed to the Supreme Court after the Labour Court said it did not have jurisdiction to handle the firm’s application for review. This followed an arbitral award for the company to increase its employees’ salaries between July 1 and December 31, 2010.

An arbitrator had asked the shoe company to increase wages for its employees by 9,1 percent.

However, the company sought to be exempted from the salary increase, leading to the court proceedings.

Ray Goba, who was representing the shoe company, said the firm was appealing against the Labour Court’s ruling, adding that the court had been influenced by technicalities, which it got wrong.

“…the court a quo (Labour Court) misdirected itself and erred in holding that there was nothing grossly irregular about the National Employment Council for the Leather and Shoe, Sports Equipment, Animal Skin Processing, Taxidermy, Leather Goods, Travel and Canvas Goods Manufacturing Industries (the Nec) abdicating its statutory obligation to consider appellant’s application for an exemption simply because the award was a result of arbitration…,” Bata said.

Goba said the company had the right to apply to Nec for an exemption.

However, Moses Nkomo and Thabani Mpofu, who represented Nec and the workers’ union, said an application for exemption can only be made in terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Nkomo said the correct procedure that Bata could have taken was to challenge the arbitral award, adding that Nec’s decision could only be interfered with by the High Court and not the Labour Court.

“The correct procedure would have been to challenge the decision in the High Court, in terms of the Arbitral Act,” he said.

Following deliberations, the Supreme Court went on to dismiss Bata’s appeal.

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