Harare City Council loses $8 million labour dispute

The Harare City Council is set to lose millions of dollars in labour settlements after a precedent was set in the case of four employees who won a legal battle leaving the HCC with an obligation to pay close to $8 million in labour awards.

This follows a boob made by HCC authorities in 2014 when they forced all employees who had reached the age of 60 into retirement and later made a dramatic U-Turn and acknowledged that the normal retirement age was 65 when the affected employees joined the organisation.

The ruling is set to open a floodgates of labour court loses aftyer close to 2000 employees were retired at 60, according to our source.

“What happened is when 2000 people were sent on forced retirement   at the age of 60 between 2014 and 2016,the bosses later realised that they were also fast approaching the same age and they could not stand leaving their lucrative positions so they reverted to the age of 65 so that they would cling onto power.

“This development forced the retired aggrieved employees to take legal recourse contesting their forced retirement which they deemed discriminatory since some senior employees in management exceeded the age of 60,” explained our source.

The case which set precedence and opened a floodgates of more lawsuits in regard retirement age is that of Misheck Mubvumbi vs City of Harare heard at the Supreme Court Case No SC64/18 and presided over by Justice Rita Makarau on May 29 2018.

Three more employees were also awarded close to $2 million each.

The figure was reached on the basis that these employees where retrenched in 2014, the Supreme Court handed down its judgment in 2018, implying that HCC has to pay them for the four years they were not at work plus damages in lieu of reinstatement because their positions were already filled by other people thus they cannot be reinstated.

According to our source the city fathers are obliged to calculate the employee’s monthly salary plus benefits and allowances, bonuses for four years thereby parting with millions of dollars.

According to court papers, HCC based its decision citing Clause 10(1) of Statutory Instrument 135 of 2012 and the Council Resolution of January 28 2014.

However, after perusing the two instruments, the aggrieved employees argued that both instruments do not relate to their contracts of employment but to Local Authority Pensions Regulations.

This publication is in possession of a copy of Justice Makarau’s Supreme Court ruling.

“The legal position present itself clearly to me that the regulations of a pension fund do not fit at the employee will retire from employment unless, expressly or impliedly, the employer and the employee agree that this be so, where therefore, an employer intends to apply the retirement age that is fixed by the pension fund for the purposes of retiring employees, it must impart this age, with the consent of the employees, into the conditions of service,” read part of the ruling.

HCC spokesperson Michael Chideme could not be reached for comment by the time of going to publication.

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