HARARE – The Supreme Court has thrown out an appeal by Air Zimbabwe challenging a Labour Court ruling reinstating it’s 301 workers who were unlawfully fired on three months’ notice back in 2015.
The national airline had dismissed its workers following the infamous Zuva Petroleum judgment of July 17, 2015. But the Labour Court ordered the company to reinstate the workers after ruling that the dismissal was unfair.
Aggrieved with the Labour Court ruling, the broke airline took the matter up with the Supreme Court.
Justice Paddington Garwe sitting with Justices Susan Mavangira and Nicholas Mathonsi, in a judgement delivered this week, ruled in favour of the workers and slapped the airline with costs.
“I find that there is no merit in this appeal,” Justice Garwe ruled, with the other two judges’ concurrence.
In September 2017, the Labour Court gave Air Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd a 60-day ultimatum to either reinstate or pay damages to the workers whose contracts were unlawfully terminated on three months’ notice in 2015.
Labour Court judge Justice Emilia Muchawa found that although Air Zimbabwe ended the contracts in the spirit of the infamous Zuva Petroleum judgment of July 17, 2015, section 24 of the Finance Act Number 8 of 2015, gave retrospective effect to the Labour Amendment Act, Number 5 of 2015.
The Labour Amendment Act, through Section 12(4a), outlawed arbitrary termination of employment on notice and set the parameters in which such termination should be done.
The new law only allowed termination on notice in circumstances where one is employed on a fixed contract basis or has consented to the termination of the contract.
Muchawa ruled that Airzim unlawfully terminated the 300 employees’ contracts and ordered that they be reinstated or be paid a reasonable compensation.
In her ruling, Muchawa said where the court makes an order for reinstatement, it must also make an order for damages as an alternative to reinstatement.
Air Zimbabwe is broke, saddled with debts of over US$200 million. The government has been trying to find an international partner for the airline without success, even with a commitment to absorb the airline’s debts.-Zimlive