HomeNewsBata employees win wage increment case

Bata employees win wage increment case

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BATA Shoe Company employees yesterday left the Supreme Court on cloud nine after their employer’s appeal against an order to award a wage increase was thrown out by the judges of appeal.

The court, comprising Justices Elizabeth Gwaunza, Antonia Guvava and Susan Mavangira, ruled that Bata’s appeal against the decision of the abitrator, who granted a 9,1% wage increment to the workers, would not stand.

The shoe company had initially appealed to the Labour Court to set aside the decision of the National Employment Council (NEC) of May 10 2011 and further sought to be exempted from paying the 9,1% wage increase for the period July to December, 2010.

The wage increase, according to the information conveyed in court, had been agreed upon by the labour bodies and representatives of employers and workers’ unions leading to an arbitral award.
However, Bata was not happy with the arbitral award and sought to challenge it by approaching the NEC which apparently declined to entertain the shoe company on the basis that it had no jurisdiction to grant exemption on an arbitral award.

The decision by NEC prompted Bata to appeal to the Supreme Court after the same matter was dismissed by the Labour Court.

In his judgment on Bata’s appeal Labour Court judge Justice Custom Kachambwa said: “The bottom line in this case is that the NEC simply said that it had no jurisdiction. The applicant (Bata) agreed that indeed that is a question of law, with due respects this is where the case ends.

There is nothing grossly irregular about an authority saying that in the circumstances of a particular case it has no jurisdiction at law.

“As counsel admitted, this is not a review matter. Counsel should have advised his client accordingly and taken the correct procedure to chase up the case. This looks like a case in bad faith, an abuse of the court process.”

Justice Kachambwa added: “The time is fast approaching for this court to start penalising both legal practitioners and their clients . . . While we are not clear as to why the parties insisted on their case when it was clearly not a review matter, we are clear that the court’s time was unnecessarily taken.”

NEC and Zimbabwe Leather and Allied Workers’ Union were represented by Advocate Thabani Mpofu and Moses Nkomo, while Bata was represented by Advocate Ray Goba.

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