THE Supreme Court of Zimbabwe has made another landmark labour ruling giving employers the right to withdraw employees’ allowances and benefits saying these were not a right or entitlement.
This comes barely 14 days after the same court gave the employer the right to terminate workers’ contracts and offload them at three months’ notice without having to pay retrenchment packages.
In a judgment delivered at the Supreme Court, in a matter involving the National Railways of Zimbabwe against all its employees’ associations who were demanding payment of outstanding housing and educational allowances, the court said the NRZ had no obligation to pay such allowances since issues of allowances were based on collective bargaining agreements.
“The appellant’s (NRZ) position at all times was that it preferred to negotiate on basic salaries and not allowances. In my view both the Labour Court and the Arbitrator ought to have found that the allowances, not having been negotiated by the parties and therefore not forming part of their collective bargaining agreement, were not a right or entitlement for appropriation by the respondents,” the court said.
“They (allowances) cannot be imposed by the arbitrator, or indeed any court, in the same way that a court cannot write a contract for the parties. What occurred in this case was totally improper. The Labour Officer, the Arbitrator and the labour Court all missed the point.”