Housing, education and other allowances not a right to workers


In another blow to workers, the Supreme Court, which recently said employers could fire workers on three months’ notice without any retrenchment package, yesterday ruled that housing, education and other allowances were not a right to workers.

Judges Venanda Ziyambi, Antonia Guvava and Elizabeth Gwaunza said it was not the courts’ business to impose conditions not agreed to by the parties concerned.

The judges said this when they quashed a Labour Court order compelling the cash-strapped National Railways of Zimbabwe to pay outstanding allowances to its employees.

NRZ workers say the parastatal owes them about $70 million in outstanding wages.

In the ruling Judge Ziyambi said:  “In my view both the Labour Court and the arbitrator ought to have found that the allowances, not having been negotiated by the parties and therefore not forming part of their collective bargaining agreement, weren’t a right or entitlement available for appropriation by the respondents.”

“This is a matter for the parties to bargain and reach agreement on. It’s not a matter where a court can intervene. A court can only intervene to enforce any agreement the parties will have concluded. The arbitrator couldn’t therefore impose terms and conditions in the collective bargaining agreement.

“His finding that housing and school fees allowances ‘have to exist in one form or the other’ was misguided, devoid of any legal basis and irresponsible. So too was the subsequent award of the said allowances in percentages lacking evidential foundation and as submitted by the applicant ‘plucked out of the air’,” she was quoted by The Chronicle as saying.


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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