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Delta Beverages wants to pay ex-worker in Zim dollars

by Fidelis Munyoro
30 Jun 2014 at 06:28hrs | Views
DELTA Beverages is refusing to pay a former worker more than U$28 000 in back-pay and damages awarded to him in a labour dispute arguing the payment should have been made in Zimbabwe dollars.

In an appeal brought to the Supreme Court last week, the beverages company argued that the Labour Court erred when it confirmed an arbitrator's decision to award Mr Kudakwashe Murandu US$28 154 26.

Through its lawyer Advocate Fadzayi Mahere, Delta argued that Mr Murandu was fired a decade ago during the Zimbabwe dollar era making the award grossly unreasonable and unsupportable at law.

"There was no basis at law for making an award in United State dollars to the respondent (Mr Murandu)," said Adv Mahere.

"The respondent's contract of employment did not provide for earnings in United States dollars.

"The consistent position that has been adopted by this court is that damages for unfair dismissal are contractual."

Mr Sibonile Kamupira, who appeared for Mr Murandu, urged the court to dismiss the appeal, saying the Zimbabwe dollar is now moribund and the foreign currency is now the medium of exchange.

He said it was competent for courts in an appropriate case to grant judgment in foreign currency.

What is required, said Mr Kamupira, was for plaintiff to lay foundation necessary to prove his or her entitlement to judgment in United States dollars.

"Having satisfied the tribunal and the lower court of his entitlement to payment in United States dollars, evidence was placed as regards to the conversion," he said.

"The parties provided the relevant information, that is, the rate of conversion to be used as well as the salary schedules for the same grade as the respondent at the time of the unfair labour practice."

The Supreme Court bench, comprising Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza, Ben Hlatshwayo and acting judge of appeal George Chiweshe, reserved judgment to a later date.

Delta Beverages appealed against the judgment of the Labour Court awarding Mr Murandu damages in United States dollars arguing that payment should be made in Zimbabwe dollars.

The company is also challenging the period covered by the damages, alleging the arbitrator and the Labour Court did not properly exercise their discretion.

Source - The Herald