BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
THE Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) has filed an urgent High Court chamber application seeking an order setting aside a collective bargaining agreement signed by other industry players.
In the application filed on Friday by its lawyers Takawira Law Chambers, GMAZ sought a relief stopping the registration of the agreement in terms of section 82 (1)(a) of the Labour Act.
Once registered under the Act, the agreement becomes legally binding,
“Applicant/and or its members will not be able to approach the court seeking to interdict the operation of an agreement that has since been registered.
“They will be forced to first comply with it before challenging the same regardless of it being a progeny of an unlawful enterprise,” GMAZ submitted.
GMAZ cited the Small to Medium Millers Association of Zimbabwe (SMMAZ), Milling Industry Workers Union (MIWU), Employment Council for the Food and Allied Industries (ECFAI) and the registrar of Labour Court as first to fourth respondents respectively.
Court papers indicated that the ECFAI on March 24 issued a memorandum to industry players and employee unions announcing a new collective bargaining agreement between the SMMAZ and MIWU.
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The agreement was allegedly reached on March 22 and was now awaiting registration in terms of Section 79 of the Labour Act (Chapter 28:01).
But GMAZ argued that the agreement was signed clandestinely by some industry players as it was not made aware of the negotiations.
“First and second respondent, through the active participation and facilitation of third respondent, clandestinely met and negotiated a collective bargaining agreement amending the principal industry collective bargaining agreement published in Statutory Instrument 41 of 1998,” the court papers read.
“No notification was ever issued by third respondent to the applicant prior to the meeting of the parties, who subsequently brokered the agreement.
“This is in spite of the fact that the applicant is a duly registered employer association with competence and authority from its 99 members across the country to participate in collective bargaining negotiations.”
The GMAZ argued that SMMAZ did not have legal grounds to participate in the negotiations.
“Millers respondent participated in the negotiations yet after its registration, its members were not verified in terms of Clause 5:3 of the third respondent’s constitution to enable it to have second representatives to the bargaining table.
“This agreement has not been ratified by the applicant or its 99 members who are employers in the sector.
“First applicant asserts that first respondent has no competence and authority to negotiate on behalf of employers who are members of the applicant and first respondent as required by section 74(2) of the Labour Act.”
The matter has not been set down for a hearing.