The Labour Court has ordered the publishers of the The Mail newspaper, Fruitlink Ventures, to pay 28 journalists who were sent on forced leave without pay following the paper’s “temporary closure” owing to operational challenges.
On Wednesday, Labour Court president Justice Euna Makamure delivered the judgment in which she ordered Fruitlink Ventures to pay all the journalists their salaries every month until the company proved its incapacitation.
Part of the final order granted by Makamure reads: “It is hereby ordered that respondent pays all applicants’ salaries until it complies with the law on incapacitation, if it is genuinely incapacitated. The unpaid leave is hereby found to be unlawful as it does not exist at law.”
The journalists were represented by Arthur Marara from Matsikidze and Mucheche law firm.
This court application came following the director of Fruitlink Ventures Private Limited, Hensley Chamboko’s failure to respond to the 24-hour ultimatum ordering him to withdraw letters he issued to journalists after the paper’s “temporary closure” in August this year.
According to the journalists, Chamboko wrote a memo to each journalist directing them to go on unpaid leave until further notice.
However, Marara argued Chamboko erred in suspending the journalists’ salaries through forced leave without a court order or consent of the employees.
The Mail shut down in August owing to operational challenges in the face of huge printing costs that saw the paper running at a loss.