The Labour Court has ordered the government’s Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Holdings to reinstate over 400 workers it retrenched five years ago,
writes Gugu Ziyaphapha.

The court said the retrenchees should return to work pending a ruling on the broadcaster’s appeal at the Supreme Court challenging a Labour Court judgment of March 2005. According to the judgment, the workers are to get their salaries and full benefits backdating to 2002 when they were retrenched.

Lawyers for the retrenched workers had asked the Labour Court to enforce its 2005 ruling, pending a Supreme Court challenge by the broadcaster.

Labour Court Judge President, Euna Makamure upheld the 2005 arbitrator’s decision that the workers were still employees of ZBC until their retrenchment was compled.

In 2005, an arbitrator ruled the retrenchees should return to work pending completion of the retrenchment exercise.

Workers who were retrenched in 2002 have not received their retrenchment packages as agreed.

The workers’ lawyer, Charles Kwaramba, of Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni says the retrenched workers were initially 480 but some of them have since died while others lost interest, reducing the number to about 380. Kwaramba said he has since written to Mandizha and Company inquiring about the date when the remaining workers should resume work.

ZBH argues in its pending appeal at the Supreme Court that the Labour Court misdirected itself and that its 2005 judgment should be quashed.

"It is humbly submitted that the Labour Court erred in law in holding, as it did, that pension contributions were a part of what ordinarily comprises a ‘retrenchment package’, and that the non-payment of such contributions by the appellant (ZBH) amounted to a breach of the parties’ severance package.

"The court, in turn, failed to appreciate that in law, that would lead to unjust enrichment in respect of the majority of respondents, who have since been alternatively employed," read the arguments by ZBH lawyers.