An application by Bulawayo textile giant Merspin to bar 42 employees it fired last year from entering its premises or contacting any of its staff was thrown out by the High Court last week after the judge ruled that the company must comply with the law first.
Merspin, which has since changed its name to Merlin, had sought the court order after it had been ordered to reinstate the workers.
The workers were dismissed following a strike on November 11 last year during which they held management hostage demanding payment of a bonus.
The company had just changed hands after being taken over by Bulawayo tycoon Delma Lupepe.
The workers were fired under the company’s code of conduct. They sought assistance from the Zimbabwe Textile Workers Union, which in turn advised them that their dismissal was illegal because the company’s code of conduct had been superceded by that of the National Employ-ment Council (NEC).
A labour relations officer in Bulawayo concurred, but the company refused to reinstate the workers insisting that the hearing had been properly conducted under its own code of conduct.
Justice Nicholas Ndou, however, said it was clear that Merspin was bound by the determination of the National Employment Council unless that determination was set aside on review or through an appeal.
While that determination stood, Merspin was bound by it irrespective of their interpretation of the law.
“There are many courses open to the applicant (Merspin) to clean its hands before being considered properly before this court,” Justice Ndou said.
“It may reinstate the 1st to 41st respondents (workers) as determined by the NEC. Or it may apply for the stay of execution of the order of the NEC pending review or appeal.”