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Former Zuva Petroleum managers challenge dismissal

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TWO former Zuva Petroleum (Private) Limited managers have taken their former employer to the Supreme Court challenging termination of their employment contracts on notice.

CHARLES LAITON
SENIOR COURT REPORTER

The matter is set to be heard tomorrow.

Don Nyamande and Kingston Donga were initially employed by BP Shell as supply and logistics manager respectively before the company changed ownership to Zuva Petroleum in 2010 which also engaged the two as managers.

However, in 2011 Zuva Petroleum offered the two former managers a voluntary retrenchment package, which the latter refused to accept prompting the firm to serve the duo with a compulsory notice of intention to retrench in December of the same year.

According to the court papers, the petroleum supplying firm and the two managers engaged in some negotiations, but failed to reach an amicable solution resulting in the termination of the managers’ contracts which then forced the managers to take the matter up for arbitration.

Upon deliberating on the matter, the arbitrator ordered the reinstatement of the two, but Zuva Petroleum was not satisfied with the outcome and filed an appeal with the Labour Court which ruled in its favour.

Later Nyamande and Donga, appealed against the Labour Court’s ruling arguing the latter had erred by “seriously misdirecting itself on a question of law by upholding the termination of the appellants’ contracts of employment on notice and failing to find such termination to be unfair dismissal.”

They also added that the Labour Court had erred and seriously misdirected itself on a question of law in failing to realise as it should have that section 12(4) of the Labour Act, does not provide for termination of a contract of employment on notice and that any such purported termination is contrary to section 12B of the labour Act.

In response to the appeal, Zuva Petroleum in its heads of argument said: “The parties seem agreed that an employee has such right. There is no explanation as to why the parties do not accept that the employer has a similar right.

“It is submitted that an employer clearly has the right to terminate an employment contract on notice and that there is no way of reading section 12(4) of the Labour Act which will invest it with meaning apart from accepting that it seeks to facilitate the exercise of that right which exists at common law.”

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