Labour Court Dismisses Appeal of 300 Former Air Zimbabwe Employees

March 12, 2024
Air Zimbabwer | Report Focus News
Labour Court Dismisses Appeal of 300 Former Air Zimbabwe Employees

In a significant ruling, the Labour Court has dismissed the appeal of 300 former Air Zimbabwe employees who challenged their retrenchment, following their acceptance of retrenchment packages. This case has captured the nation’s attention, especially considering the backdrop of the landmark Zuva Petroleum Private Limited 2015 judgment that had led to the termination of over 6,000 jobs in a single week by allowing employment contracts to be terminated by notice from either party.

The controversy began when, in response to the Supreme Court’s order for reinstatement and payment of damages, Air Zimbabwe complied on December 12, 2020, by reinstating the appellants, settling their dues, and subsequently placing them on unpaid leave. However, the situation took a turn when Air Zimbabwe, then under administration per the Reconstruction of State Indebted Insolvent Companies Act, initiated a retrenchment process in March 2021, offering the minimum terminal benefits as stipulated by the Labour Act, which the employees accepted.

Upon reflection, the aggrieved former employees raised concerns that the retrenchment did not adhere to the Supreme Court’s reinstatement order and was fundamentally flawed. This led to a legal battle that culminated in the Labour Court, where Justice Custom Kachambwa delivered a ruling that underscores the legal principle that acceptance of retrenchment packages constitutes acceptance of the retrenchment terms, dismissing the employees’ appeal.

Justice Kachambwa emphasized that employment termination on notice is permissible under common law for economic or other reasons, and pointed out the appellants’ acceptance of back pay, which exceeded their due amounts, signified their agreement to the retrenchment terms. He highlighted the importance of understanding and acknowledging the terms of retrenchment, as demonstrated by the employees’ signed acknowledgment of their retrenchment letters.

The judgment also noted that the retrenchment process, governed by Section 12C, is designed to simplify the procedure for parties, moving away from the previously cumbersome processes that required approval from either the retrenchment board or the Minister of Labour.

In his conclusion, Justice Kachambwa stated that the appeal lacked merit and was thereby dismissed with costs, affirming that the appellants had effectively waived their right to challenge the retrenchment process by accepting the packages offered. This ruling not only concludes a protracted legal dispute but also sets a precedent regarding the consequences of accepting retrenchment packages and the legal bindings they entail.