Top court orders companies to pay damages to workers dismissed on 3 months’ notice

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IN yet another landmark ruling by the Constitutional Court, companies who sacked workers on three months’ notice in 2015 have been ordered to pay former workers damages for loss of employment.

Following the ‘Zuva Petroleum Judgement of 17 July 2015’, many firms took advantage to fire targeted employees without compensation.

That was after ex-Zuva Petroleum managers, Don Nyamande and Kigstone Donga, had lost an appeal against their former employer challenging termination of their contracts on notice.

Then, the late Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku dismissed their appeal saying their dismissal was in accordance with Section 12B of the Labour Act.

Thousands of workers from different sectors were sacked without consent and any retrenchment packages.

New Chief Justice, Luke Malaba, on Wednesday, dismissed Greatermans Stores challenge which sought to deny its former employees their retrenchment packages basing on the infamous judgment which was later stopped by government.

Justice Malaba said the amendments to the labour laws that compel employers to go the retrenchment way if the parties are not in agreement apply in retrospect.

The Labour Court in 2017 also ruled that the workers were dismissed unlawfully and were entitled to retrenchment packages or payment of damages.

“Labour Amendment Act (Number 5 of 2015) applies in retrospect to cover all those who lost their employment from July 17, 2015,” a High Court Judge said then.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Peter Mutasa, in an interview with New Zimbabwe, welcomed the ruling.

“We are pleased that our members will finally get their damages but the sad part is that the damages will not be much as most of them were earning very little in terms of salaries. Parliament should push for the alignment of the labour laws so that retrenchment packages will be based on at least three or so months,” said Mutasa.