Court confirms Zipam order to pay ex-workers
BY CHARLES LAITON
In her determination in a matter in which labour officer, Lilford Nhandara, was seeking confirmation of his ruling, Justice Hove said she was granting the application by consent after Zipam had conceded it had an obligation to pay its sacked employees.
The ex-employees were part of a group of 35 Zipam workers, whose employment contracts were terminated following the infamous July 2015 Supreme Court ruling giving employers the right to terminate contracts on three months’ notice.
“Whereupon after reading documents filed of record and hearing the applicant (Nhandara) and counsel for the respondent (N. Mugandiwa) it is ordered the application is by consent granted, the ruling by the applicant is hereby confirmed and the respondent will bear the applicant’s costs,” Justice Hove ruled.
In February last year, the workers approached the High Court seeking an interdict against Zipam after the institution threatened to evict them from their homes without paying their terminal benefits.
The former workers, however, vowed to stay put at the company’s premises until over $450 000, in outstanding salaries and benefits, was paid.
In a new development to the matter, Zipam is alleged to have engaged 20 employees, replacing those that were fired, a move that has been described by the former workers as an unfair labour practice.
According to the workers: “Zipam showed no remorse at all by paying remaining staff salaries and bonuses without giving priority to the outgoing staff and above all continued to recruit workers; some of them highly qualified, thereby, shooting itself in the foot by going against its original plan to reduce the wage bill.”
In the confirmed ruling, Nhandara said it was not in dispute that the former workers had their employment terminated on three months’ notice.
“The respondent (Zipam) admitted in the termination letters that notice, salary arrears, unremitted pension contribution and cash in lieu of leave days will be paid. The respondent is, hereby, ordered to pay the claimants in line with their termination letters $292 692, 43 within 30 days from receipt of ruling.”
The workers claimed their dismissal was politically motivated