Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

5-year labour row haunts RBZ

By Fidelis Munyoro

The labour row pitting the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and security guards it retrenched five years ago is back at the Labour Court with the former employees demanding their dues.

Former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono with workers retrenched by the bank (file photo)
Former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono with workers retrenched by the bank (file photo)

The Supreme Court referred the dispute to the lower court earlier this year to consider whether the salaries and benefits stipulated in the works council agreement concluded in September 2010 encompassed the 153 former security guards.

According to the ruling, if the agreement applied to 153 then the matter should proceed to quantification of the salary and benefits due to each guard in terms of the agreement.

The calculation would be from March 1 2009 to the respective date of expiry of each guard’s employment con- tract.

This followed an appeal against the judgment of the Labour Court setting aside an arbitral award in favour of the guards which upheld their claim for payment of salary arrears and benefits.

Last week Labour Court judge Justice Susan Chivizhe, sitting with Justice Fatima Maxwell, deferred the hearing to allow the parties to lead evidence.

The guards, all former police officers, were employed by the central bank on fixed term contracts renewable every three months.

Their contracts ranged from 2007 and 2008 until January and April 2011 when they expired by the passage of time.

The contracts were not renewed because the project for which they were employed was finally wound up in 2011.

In the Labour Court, the guards are basing their argument on the arbitral award made on July 28 2010.

In that case, arbitrator Mr Nasho Wilson made an award for 109 workers and ordered RBZ to regularise the workers’ contracts of employment in line with the multi-currency system prevailing at the time.

The salaries and benefits were to be backdated to March 1, 2009.

Lead guard in the matter Mr Joseph Lungu stated in the papers at the Labour Court that the Supreme Court had confirmed in its judgment the actual position on the case.

“Applicants are part of this award as they were represented by the workers’ committee,” he stated.

“The Supreme Court judgment recognises that the resolution was intended to address a continuing wrong by respondent (RBZ).

“As confirmed by the Supreme Court, applicants (security guards) are entitled to their arrear salaries and benefits as per works council agreement of September 2010.”

Mr Lungu further stated that the RBZ could not argue that the guards were not covered by the agreement.

He said the works council resolution covered all non-managerial workers of RBZ without discrimination.

“The court should therefore find in favour of applicants and respondent must pay the cost of suit at punitive scale of attorney client as a result of its frivolous arguments in this matter.”

In its counter-argument, RBZ contends that the arbitrator erroneously applied the terms of the 2010 agreement to the security guards by conflating various claims.

The RBZ argues the 2010 agreement was confined to permanent workers. The Herald