KWEKWE City Council has lost a labour case against three former workers fired from its subsidiary company, Kwekwe Breweries after it ran into financial difficulties.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Labour officer, Elvis Machikiti ordered council to pay $11 405 in salary arrears, transport benefits and leave days to Audrey Bepu, Abednigo Banda and Cosmas Guchu to end a labour dispute that has been ongoing since last year.
In his ruling, Machikiti said council should pay the arrears to the former workers, although it still owes eight months’ salaries to its serving staff.
“The respondent (council) has appealed for charity and mercy from this tribunal. Unfortunately, justice is blind and fair,” he said in passing the ruling.
Machikiti said even if Kwekwe City Council was facing financial challenges, it could not be allowed to violate fundamental rights for employees and get away with it.
“The right to be paid for work done is a fundamental right for any employee. It is my finding that the claimants (workers) are owed salaries for six and eight months. While it is important to balance interests of the employer and those of the employees, it is my considered opinion that this is a matter, where a very short period within which to pay is justified,” he ruled.
The ex-workers’ lawyers, Mawadze and Mujaya, had written to council threatening to attach property should the money remain unpaid by end of this month.
Council, which only managed to collect $7 million from its $17 million revenue budget projection last year, recently lost another court battle on a $12 million power debt to Zesa.
The local authority is also battling to settle a $2 million debt to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority and faces a garnishee order from the National Social Security Authority for failing to remit its statutory obligations.