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Payment dispute goes for arbitration

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The Ministry of Labour and Social Services has referred for arbitration a case where 129 employees at the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda)’s Sanyati Estate have accused their employer of non-payment of salaries.

Marufu Mandevere, the lawyer representing the employees, said the labour dispute started after the estate entered into a joint venture agreement with a private company Gameloft Investments.

“Sometime in December 2010, Arda Sanyati entered into a joint venture and transferred its operations to a private company Gameloft Investments,” said Mandevere.

“The new company started operating in May 2011 and the employees continued to work at Arda until on the 24th of October 2011 when some of them received transfer letters whilst others were told that they were no longer going to be permanent employees but seasonal. The clients have not been paid since the takeover by Gameloft Investments.”

He said he wants his clients’ contracts reinstated and that they remain at Sanyati Estate without any loss of salary and benefits.

“Before transfer, employees are entitled to all benefits, but that has not happened. They have not been paid and what they want is to have their outstanding salaries and benefits as they have not been paid for a long time now,” said Mandevere.

“It seems the new investor has no money and capacity to run the farm because my clients tell me that this year there was no farming done at the farm. We are therefore saying there was unfair labour practice where there was contravention of Section 16 of the Labour Act.”

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