By Alois Vinga
AT least 56 former First Capital Bank employees who were recently retrenched have approached the Labour Court seeking a review of the manner in which the financial institution handled the exercise.
According to copies of court papers in our possession, the employees allege that the financial institution did not follow the expected procedures in handling the retrenchment exercise resulting in a decision being made prematurely in contravention of sections 25A (5) and (6) and 12D (1) and (2) of the Labour Act.
“Section 25 (5) (a) and (f) of the Labour Act obliges the employer in peremptory terms to consult the works council about proposals relating to the restructuring of the workplace or the retrenchment of employees.
“This position is further given credence by section 12 D (1) of the Act which compels the employer to inform and consult employees at the earliest possible opportunity of any changes in the organisation which may result in the retrenchment of employees,” says the papers in part.
It is the workers contention that on the 9th of August, 2019, First Capital Bank communicated to the works council of its intention to retrench some of its employees on the basis of a restructuring and rationalisation exercise.
They said that on the same day, the bank delivered individual letters notifying the applicants of the impending retrenchment.
The effective date of the retrenchment and accordingly termination of employment was declared as the 31 August 2019.
Pursuant to such notice of retrenchment, a meeting with the affected employees and the bank was scheduled and held on the 19th of August 2019.
Parties then agreed that they would exchange position papers elaborating their positions on the issues in dispute for consideration.
On the 21st of August 2019, the parties met once more and the employees opposed the retrenchment exercise in writing.
The meeting was adjourned on the 23rd of August 2019 to allow the negotiators to consult their principals on the issue in dispute.
Due to the fact that the affected employees were many and dispersed around the country, applicants requested for the postponement of the meeting which was scheduled for the 23rd of August 2019 to allow effective consultations.
However, the bank’s head of human resources declined to accede to the request indicating the desire to continue with the retrenchment within the set timelines to conclude the exercise at the end of August, before ejecting the applicants for its premises.