Former Fleximail workers win compensation in US dollars

FIVE judges of the Labour Court have ruled in favour of 39 ex-Fleximail employees and ordered the now defunct firm to pay compensation in United States dollars equivalent to five years’ salary at the April 2009 salary rate.

CHARLES LAITON
SENIOR COURT REPORTER

The amount would translate into thousands of dollars for each employee of the former printing and stationery company.

The landmark ruling by the Labour Court followed a recent order by the Supreme Court which set aside the judgment of the High Court and referred the matter back to the Labour Court for quantification of damages.

“In the result therefore it is ordered that respondent (Fleximail) pays each applicant damages in the United States dollars equivalent to five (5) years’ salary at the April, 2009 salary rate,” the five judges ruled.

In a 15-page judgement, the court said: “On the second scenario (b) still using Applicant Dinha’s salary, it was submitted that the April 2009 salary of $203 multiplied by five years, the total amount payable would be $12 180 excluding cash in lieu of leave days and interest.”

Fleximail and its employees reached an impassé over the payment of the employees’ benefits after the firm insisted in paying its former workers in Zimbabwe dollars.

Commenting on the same issue, the judges said: “It will be inappropriate to make an award in a currency which is no longer in use and from which no value will be realised. I do not think even respondent (Fleximail) itself would accept it in its transactions.”

“To make an award in Zimbabwe dollar is to issue a brutum fulmen and by so doing, justice will not be achieved. It will be a mockery of justice as stated in the Madhatter case supra. Further, public policy demands that a wronged party must get adequate compensation. Admittedly, such compensation should not be unduly harsh on the party that has wronged them.”

About 39 employees, eight of which have since passed on according to their lawyer Munyaradzi Gwisai, had all hoped to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the matter took almost six years to be completed after being referred from one court to the other.

The ex-Fleximail employees, who were all illegally dismissed in 2005, were represented by Labour Union lawyer Munyaradzi Gwisai and Edzai Matika.

3 Comments

  1. Okay, there is some legal jargon which the every day news reader is supposed to know by now and you can get away without explaining/translating it, but damn it – what the hell is a “brutum fulmen”?!?

  2. Maxwell Christian

    I am glad that the LC saw it fit to depart from the common law principles of currency nominalism, which simply states that a debt should be paid in the currency in which it has been accumulated or incurred.

    Ugly Duckling, brutum fulmen simply means a judgment that has no legal effect or one that is simply academic.

  3. Thanks Maxwell
    @Newsday Journo: now that you know what it means, you can revisit your article and insert that definition

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