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NRZ drags workers to court

by Mashudu Netsianda
27 Apr 2016 at 00:24hrs | Views
THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has taken 942 of its workers to court for refusing to return to work after downing tools last month over the non-payment of salaries.

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira two weeks ago ordered the disgruntled NRZ employees to return to work pending the determination of the matter.

The minister issued the order following last month's application at the Labour Court by the NRZ management for a "show cause" order in terms of the Labour Act.

When a court issues a show cause order, one or more parties in a case are required to justify, explain, or prove something to the court.

In its application filed yesterday through lawyers, Coghlan and Welsh legal practitioners at the Bulawayo Labour Court, the NRZ management said the strike was illegal.

The parastatal said the workers had failed to give the mandatory 14 days' notice to their employer of their intention to engage in collective job action.

In their heads of arguments, the workers, through their lawyer Munyaradzi Gwisai, said the collective job action was a spontaneous action in response to an immediate occupational hazard which was a threat to their safety, health and human dignity.

They also argued that the strike was guaranteed under section 65 (3) of the constitution.

"It's only through such action that the workers' fundamental rights under the Labour Act and their basic human rights under the constitution may be defended. The workers therefore aver that their actions are lawful and within the parameters of the Labour Act and in terms of the constitution," argued Gwisai.

He said conditions created by NRZ management's failure to pay its workers as well as the company's use of obsolete equipment for its day-to-day operations created an occupational hazard.

The lawyer said NRZ's actions were in breach of its own safety regulations.

"The employer's actions have reduced workers to beggars and destitute and resulted in hunger, mental stress and making it impossible for them to physically and mentally carry out their jobs without risking their own limbs and lives. In the last three weeks alone, there've been at least four train derailments, exposing the grave risk and the danger that workers face," said Gwisai.

Source - Chronicle