Supreme Court ruling has consequences for employees in telecoms

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Last week, Kingstone Donga and Don Nyamande secured a place in Zimbabwean labour relations history when they lost a case against their former employer, Zuva Petroleum. They were citing grounds of unfair dismissal and contract termination.

The legal precedent that followed this decision is what has mattered to a lot of employed Zimbabweans. The Supreme Court of Zimbabwe has upheld a decision that says that companies can now terminate workers’ contracts at any time, without offering them packages by giving them three months notice.

This has grave consequences for anyone under formal employment who has been covered by a very accommodative Labour Act. What’s also significant is the time this precedent has been set.

The majority of business enterprises in Zimbabwe, including companies in previously robust industries like telecoms, technology and financial services, have been under significant financial strain and in most cases the labour cost has been cited as one of the largest cost centres. Terminating workers contracts hasn’t been an option because of huge burdens that come with severance packages.

With this ruling, workers in these companies are left exposed. There are industries like telecoms where companies like Econet are on a massive cost-cutting exercise. This has been from salary cuts to payments made to suppliers. This might turn into a shedding of “staff that isn’t pivotal”. The same can be said for Telecel which is also trying to figure out its way out of a cost and operational maze.

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Companies have various ways of dealing with issues around labour costs and depending on what sort of contract someone signs when they join an organisation, some employees might be safe in all of this.

However, as operating conditions get tougher, there’s no telling who’ll be left naked in all of this. According to the Herald, the government is working to address the exposure that has been created, and there are always workers’ unions to deal with any unfair dismissals. But all this might be too late considering the reports that some employers have already started responding to this.

21 Comments

  1. Tinashe says:

    I hereby propose a movement. All those offended by the judgement.
    Boycott all fuel from Zuva Petroleum

    1. mugu says:

      stoopid inane comment!
      why is zuva to ‘blame’ here !?

      1. Optimus Prime says:

        Lost your humour to sanctions?

      2. tinm@n says:

        Its a reasonable protest and isnt stupid at all. It is a peaceful show of solidarity and no one can force you where to spend your money.

        I would support such a cause.

        1. mugu says:

          why is zuva to ‘ blame ’ here ?
          pse share…..

  2. BabaB says:

    Business needs this judgement – and Zim’s competitiveness needs this judgement..employees need to take responsibility for their own performance so this is a healthy judgement in the long term

    1. Jimminy Cricket says:

      Absolutely correct. The labor laws in Zimbabwe are too stiff and this makes international employers nervous but not only that makes employers in general in Zimbabwe hesitate to hire.

  3. Not really says:

    This is a 2 way street i know im getting nothing at the end of years of loyal service. I will become the most incompetent human ever and leave the worst mess you will see.
    Comopanies will spend thousands onconsultants and loss months of production.
    So this ruling isnt for everyone

  4. alibaba says:

    can you do a feature on online shopping eg ebay on duty etc and which sites deliver to zimbabwe

  5. macd chip says:

    This judgement is the best ever thing to happen for companies in Zim who needs a vibrant workforce coupled with professional attitude.

    Now workers will know that they will get fired and get nothing if they continue their militant laziness promoted by Unions barons.

    Most of labour laws were made soon after independence. A lot of these reflect the emotional thinking of that period; to correct the colonial unfair laws.

    That period is over, we need laws which protects the future of Zim owned companies. We need more judgements like that.

    1. Anthony Somerset says:

      even as an “employee” of one of the telecoms/internet companies this is a welcome move only in the sense that there is this rot of mentality of i have my job now i don’t need to care about it anymore and that is worse for effectiveness of said companies and half the reason for such high wage bills without the performance that one might expect to see for such a wage bill…

      most employment laws around the world have similar provisions particularly for inadequate performance etc etc and its about time Zimbabwe came into the 21st century in that regard!

    2. dstv says:

      actually employers need to understand that probarly 55% of what you tell your employees to do is not in their job description and you work them beyond normal hours saka very soon maenployers are going to see the shock of their life whnen people claim their overtime allowances

  6. starlin Mallon says:

    FOOLISH DECISIONS COMES FROM LEARNED PPLE….

    SLAVERY IS COMING BACK AT ITS WORST.

    1. macd chip says:

      if the slavery you are talking about coming back and make our country prosper again, then its more than welcome.

      l get fed up every time l walk into a office or shop or business to get a service and you get workers who do not care about customer care at all.

      The only people l have seen being eager and willing about their jobs are mahwindi and kombi drivers because they know if they do not work, there is money to their pockets, there is no greedy Unions to protect them, straight and simple.

      1. Anonymous says:

        Wat prosperity are u tokng abt f we are slaves in our own country…….responding to yo first statement.

      2. m2 says:

        Wat prosperity are u tokng abt f we are slaves in our own country…….responding to yo first statement.

  7. iRobot says:

    You people in Zimbabwe (yes in Africa) not everything American is good… please get over it already! Recently they started marrying persons of similar sexual make-up – are we gonna jump for that too?

  8. Anonymous says:

    …and then I’m not even concerned about this madcow disease, cause you know what? I’m a HELICOPTER!

  9. Anonymous says:

    The ruling is welcome. It’s about time employees realised that if they run down a company they can’t expect to continue to benefit from other people’s sweat. The level of laziness and incompetence is appalling and remember behind those companies are shareholders, who are also humans who worked hard to fund those companies and stand to lose everything when the so called employees literally strip the company. So If employees can terminate a contract at will, why shouldn’t an employer have the same right?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Business and Labour will as usual have to take the blame for Government inefficiencies. If we had a decent Government with a decent economy we wouldn’t be having this conversation

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