The full Supreme Court bench yesterday dismissed an appeal by two former Zuva Petroleum (Pvt) Ltd managers, who took their former employer to court challenging termination of their employment contracts on notice.
BY CHARLES LAITON
The court headed by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku said the Labour Court’s decision confirming the dismissal of Don Nyamande and Kingston Donga by Zuva Petroleum, was in accordance with Section 12B of the Labour Act.
“I am satisfied that Section 12B of the (Labour) Act does not abolish the employer’s common law right to terminate employment on notice in terms of an employment contract for a number of reasons,” Justice Chidyausiku said.
“As I have already stated, it is common cause that once upon a time both the employer and the employee had a common law right to terminate an employment relationship on notice.
“That common law right in respect of both the employer and the employee can only be limited, abolished or regulated by an Act of Parliament or a statutory instrument that is clearly intra vires an Act of Parliament.”
The judge said the same section sets out in some detail what constituted unfair labour practice which it outlawed.
“Termination of employment on notice is not among the conduct that Section 12B of the act outlaws as unfair labour practice,” he added.
Nyamande and Donga, who were represented by Lovemore Madhuku, had argued that termination of their employment on notice by Zuva Petroleum was illegal.
However, Zuva Petroleum through its lawyer Advocate Thabani Mpofu, who was assisted by Nelson Chamisa presented that any contract of employment, between an employer and an employee, was just as good as any other contract and could therefore be terminated on notice.
The court heard the two were employed by BP Shell as supply and logistics managers respectively before the company sold its services to Zuva Petroleum in 2010 which then engaged the two as managers.
However, as time went by, in 2011 Zuva Petroleum offered the two former managers a voluntary retrenchment package, which they rejected prompting the firm to serve the duo with a compulsory notice of intention to retrench in December of the same year.
The court heard, the petroleum firm abandoned the retrenchment process and resolved to terminate the two managers’ employment contracts on notice.