MDC calls on government to intervene to stop wholesale dismissal of workers


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The Movement for Democratic Change has called upon the government to intervene urgently to stop the wholesale dismissal of workers following a Supreme Court ruling that employers can fire workers on three months’ notice without any retrenchment package.

Party spokesman Obert Gutu, who is a lawyer, said while the legal reasoning behind the Supreme Court judgment was very sound and beyond reproach, “the MDC calls upon the government to immediately amend and /or repeal the Labour Act ( Chapter 28 : 01) in order to protect the rights of workers who are now at the mercy of their employers”.

“The MDC would like to impress upon the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, as a matter of extreme urgency, to intervene in this depressing state of affairs and invoke the relevant statutory powers in order to protect workers who are now totally at the mercy of their employers.

“ Much as we appreciate that the prevailing socio – economic conditions in the country militate against the growth of the economy, the MDC calls upon the ZANU- PF regime to show empathy for the plight of workers and thus, move in quickly to rectify this anomalous state of affairs,” Gutu said.

The MDC’s appeal comes amid reports that several companies have already given notice to dismiss hundreds of workers.

Some of the companies are said to owe workers more than a year’s wages.

 

Full statement:

 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

 MDC stands for the rights of workers    

 

The MDC is a social democratic political party that solidly and resolutely stands for the upholding and enforcement of workers' rights in both the formal and informal sectors. The historical link between the MDC and the labour movement in Zimbabwe is well documented.

Indeed, the MDC is a child of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).It is against this background, therefore, that the MDC is deeply disturbed by the decision of the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe in the matter between Don Manyande and Kingstone Donga v Zuva Petroleum (Private) Limited, Supreme Court judgment number SC43/2015 that was handed down on Friday, July 17,2015.

In essence, the judgement that was written by the Honourable Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku states that an employer can terminate an employee's contract of employment by merely giving the appropriate notice period without having to pay any retrenchment package and/or referring the matter for either voluntary or compulsory arbitration.

Justices of Appeal Elizabeth Gwaunza, Paddington Garwe, Ben Hlatshwayo and Antoinette Guvava concurred with the Chief Justice's ruling. This effectively means that any worker can now have his/her contract of employment terminated on notice. The employer is absolutely not obligated to provide any reasons for the termination of the contract of employment.

The MDC is totally alarmed and disappointed by this ruling mainly because it has devastating and far – reaching implications on the country's labour market. In fact, employers are now at liberty to embark on a wholesale termination of their employees' contracts of employment without paying any retrenchment packages.

Whilst the legal reasoning behind the Supreme Court judgment is very sound and beyond reproach, the MDC calls upon the government to immediately amend and /or repeal the Labour Act ( Chapter 28 : 01) In order to protect the rights of workers who are now at the mercy of their employers. In particular, Section 12B and Section 12(4) of the Labour Act have to be immediately amended in order for employers to be specifically and unequivocally prevented from terminating an employee's contract of employment on notice without the need of paying a retrenchment package.

Zimbabwe is a developing country in which more than 85 percent of the population is living in abject poverty (ie on less than US$2 per day.) The rate of unemployment is also above 80 percent and what this means is that the few workers who still holding on to their jobs can be put off work by the mere act of their employers giving them notice. Such a scenario can wreck unimaginable havoc on society at large.

The MDC would like to impress upon the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, as a matter of extreme urgency, to intervene in this depressing state of affairs and invoke the relevant statutory powers in order to protect workers who are now totally at the mercy of their employers. Much as we appreciate that the prevailing socio – economic conditions in the country militate against the growth of the economy, the MDC calls upon the Zanu PF regime to show empathy for the plight of workers and thus, move in quickly to rectify this anomalous state of affairs.

MDC : EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL

Obert Chaurura Gutu

National Spokesperson

(370 VIEWS)

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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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