ZNCC upholds Supreme Court rulings

HARARE – The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) says the recent Supreme Court labour rulings will help revive struggling companies operating under the current harsh economic environment.

ZNCC chief executive Christopher Mugaga on Tuesday told journalists in the capital that while the rulings had cost many people their livelihoods, the Court’s decisions would “pay dividend in the future”.

“There is absolutely nothing special about this ruling except that it was long overdue. Before (this ruling) companies could not dismiss excess workers, a situation which was bleeding and affecting performance,” he said.

Mugaga also said the ruling was a “mere interpretation of existent laws” thus making it “a very legal standing” by the court.

“We have always talked about how inflexible the country’s labour laws are, and now, the Supreme Court acted on one of the resolutions from our recently ended congress, which is that of aligning labour laws to accommodate streamlining measures.” Mugaga said.

This comes as Supreme Court Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku on July 17, 2015 passed a judgement that companies could terminate workers’ contracts at any time, without offering them packages by giving them three months’ notice.

The decision was in a case in which two former Zuva Petroleum managers, Don Nyamande and Kingstone Donga were challenging termination of their contracts.

The legal precedent that followed this decision was that most companies acted on this window and downsized, with close to 6 000 people having since lost their jobs since the ruling two weeks ago.

Early this week, barely 14 days after the first ruling, the same court made another landmark labour ruling giving employers the right to withdraw employees’ allowances and benefits saying these were not a right or entitlement.

In a judgment delivered at the Supreme Court, in a matter involving the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) against all its employees’ associations who were demanding payment of outstanding housing and educational allowances,  it was ruled that the NRZ had no obligation to pay such allowances since issues of allowances were based on collective bargaining agreements.

Meanwhile, Davison Norupiri, ZNCC president said the ruling was similar to a case recorded in the 1990s.

“The ruling has stirred emotions and relief within the market, on the surface, it appears like a blatant violation of workers’ rights but once factors in the business environment we are operating in are put into play, one will realize this was a major relief.

“Surprisingly, the Zuva Petroleum vs. its staff is not the first ruling of this kind under the similar circumstances, if my memory serves me well, in the 1990s we had the Nhamo vs Chirisa case even though the judgment went unnoticed to the public,” he said.