Steward Bank wins labour case

HARARE - Steward Bank has won a labour dispute against 11 of its workers, who were seeking a court order barring the financial institution from withholding their salaries and benefits pending retrenchment.

Nisbert Denga and 10 others, who were represented by Selby Hwacha, had filed a Labour Court application against the bank and Lance Mambondiani.

They accused the bank of infringing on their constitutional rights.

Taona Sibanda, representing the bank, said the Labour Court did not have jurisdiction to hear the employees’ application.

Sibanda argued that the Labour Court was devoid of general powers to hear constitutional matters in the mould of the applicants’ case.

“Nowhere in the Labour Act (Chapter 28:01) is the Labour Court empowered to issue declaratory orders and interdicts,” he said.

But the applicants said that the Labour Court had jurisdiction to hear the matter and grant an appropriate relief in the event of an infringement of a fundamental right of an employee.

“We submit that the confiscating of August 2014 salary already earned and withholding of the applicants’ salaries pending retrenchment by the respondent is a deprivation of the applicants’ right to property in terms of Section 71 (3) of the Constitution. It is also a breach of rights to fair labour standards and practices and the protection of the law,” they said.

However, the Labour Court judge Godfrey Musariri said the Labour Act did not provide it with jurisdiction in matters of the acquisition of property  whether lawful or unlawful.

“Therefore, the applicants’ case comes to grief upon the plank of the said Section 172 (2). In any event the applicants could have directly approached the highest court, the Constitutional Court, using their interpretation of ‘a court’ under section 85 (1) of the constitution to seek the relief they desire,” Musariri said, before dismissing the application.

Comments (3)

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CARTRIDGE GALLERY - 25 March 2015

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CARTRIDGE GALLERY - 25 March 2015

Steward bank has only won a technical battle in a war on merits they will eventually lose, as the employees and their lawyers will obviously put their act together and approach the High Court or the ConCourt or may even word their application differently and re-approach the Labour Court for the relief they will obviously win!

Maxwell Christian - 26 March 2015

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