’ConCourt challenge suspends Supreme Court ruling’

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) says the constitutional challenge against a Supreme Court ruling empowering employers to terminate employment contracts on notice, effectively suspends the decision.

By Christopher Mahove

The labour body said employers still using the case of Zuva Petroleum to sack workers were doing so at their own peril.

The two former Zuva managers, Don Nyamande and Kingstone Donga on Wednesday approached the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) challenging the Supreme Court ruling on the basis that it infringed Section 3 of the Constitution as it resurrected a common law rule, which was last applied more than three decades ago.

ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo, told NewsDay in an interview yesterday the Supreme Court judgment will remain suspended until the ConCourt ruled on the matter.

“In terms of Zimbabwean jurisprudence, an appeal to a higher court has got the effect of suspending the decision appealed against. Therefore, as far as we are concerned until the ConCourt decides on the application/appeal, the decision of the Supreme Court stays suspended,” Moyo said.

Moyo said employers using the Supreme Court case as a basis for terminating contracts of their workers should not proceed with the action as they risked losing huge amounts of money in damages to the affected workers.

“Unfortunately, there are employers who might not be aware that an appeal has been made and might be still basing on that judgment to terminate employment. We are taking this opportunity to advise employers not to proceed because it may be costly for them when they learn that their purported termination of contracts is deemed null and void,” he said.

Moyo said those who were giving workers termination letters dated July 17, way after the day were doing things outside the law.

“Ignorance of law is no defence, so if you are an employer and you don’t follow what is happening and blindly rely on the judgment without doing research; you might discover that you have been doing things outside the law. It’s not about the date; it is about when the employee is advised. We know that we still have employers who are dishing out termination letters with the Friday date, but what is going to count is when the employee was notified of the termination,” Moyo said.

The ZCTU secretary-general said the labour body’s general council had made a decision to pursue all the three possible options available to them.

“We did not want to be seen to be negotiating in bad faith by embarking on demonstrations whilst government was in agreement with us that they are going to intervene with a presidential powers decree because that is what we agreed at the Tripartite Negotiation Forum. Now that we are aware that the Minister of Labour had a bad day in Cabinet; lost to the other capitalists in that Cabinet, ZCTU still has an option open and that option is to mount demonstrations,” he said.

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