Chinese diamond miner Anjin Investments has been ordered by Zimbabwe’s labour court to reinstate at least 1 100 employees it fired three years ago.
Anjin, one of the seven firms licenced to mine the vast government-controlled Marange diamond field, is a joint venture between China’s Anhui Foreign Economic Construction (Group) Co and Zimbabwean state entities and began operations in 2009.
The mine, which over three years ago claimed to be the largest producer of diamonds in the world, has been facing viability problems and is among diamond firms that have since 2013, reported diminishing alluvial diamond deposits in Marange.
In 2012 the company dismissed 1 500 workers who had gone on strike demanding salary increases.
The workers then challenged the dismissal in court, demanding reinstatement without loss of salary and benefits or damages in lieu of reinstatement.
Labour Court judge Justice Chidziva upheld the appeal on May 29 after the company failed to among others furnish the court with minutes of disciplinary proceedings which led to the dismissals.
“Where a party does not appear or show good cause how he or she did not file a response, the court may according to the nature of the case or the justice of the required enter into a default judgment against the defaulting party,” read part of the judgment.
“Accordingly it is ordered that, the appeal be and is hereby granted in default in terms of Rule 22 (b) (i) Labour Court Rules S.I 59/2006, respondent to bear costs of suit.”
The legal representative for the workers, Munyaradzi Gwisai wrote to the company’s lawyers, Mugiya & Macharaga, informing them that the workers would report for work in terms of the judgment.
“May you also kindly impress upon your client to pay back pay and benefits due to our clients from August 2012 which is the date of unlawful suspension to date. We hope your client will reinstate our clients to their previous positions, failure of which we will apply for damages in lieu of reinstatement,” Gwisai wrote.
Zimbabwe Diamonds and Allied Workers Union (Zidawu) president Cosmas Sunguro, a former workers committee chairman at Anjiin, welcomed the ruling. He said the employees reported for work last Friday but were not allowed to work, with officials saying they will communicate management’s decision through their lawyer.
“As Zidawu we are very happy about the results. At last justice has been delivered after three years. It’s unfortunate that some of my dear friends passed away before seeing this day,” he said.
Recently the mine lost its bid to stop the auctioning of its property worth $800 000 by former workers after the High Court dismissed its urgent chamber application against an arbitration ruling that gave the award. The company’s 200 former security guards had filed a $837 506.22 claim against their ex-employer whom they accused of contractual breaches.
Anjin officials were not immediately available to comment on the ruling.-The Source