15 November 2012

Zambia: Shamenda Was Within Law On Minimum Wage, Rules Court

THE Lusaka High Court has ruled that Labour Minister Fackson Shamenda was within the law when he announced new minimum wages for domestic, shop and general workers.

Mr Justice Mubanga Kondolo said in his ruling yesterday that the minister did not need to consult the Zambia Federation of Employers (ZFE) before coming up with Statutory Instruments numbers 46 and 47 of the Industrial and Labour Relations Act.

ZFE had sought judicial review over Government's decision to increase monthly salaries of domestic, general and shop workers without consulting the employers' body.

"The Minister did not act ultra vires by passing Statutory Instruments (SI) number 46 and 47 of 2012 and the claim that seeks a declaration to this effect is dismissed," Mr Justice Kondolo said.

He said Mr Shamenda did not act beyond section 71 of the Industrial and Labour Relations Act.

The judge noted that the minister did not contravene the Act by calling for the arrest of ZFE Executive Director, Harrington Chibanda for directing members not to abide by the Statutory Instruments.

He said the Minister was not obliged to consult the Tripartite Labour Consultative Council and dismissed ZFE's claims to that effect.

Mr Justice Kondolo further dismissed the request by the Federation to refer the SI's issue to the Tripartite Consultative Labour Council for determination.

He said the SI's only applied to workers who were not represented by trade unions and any attempt by the Minister to extend the application of the instruments to cover workers who were members of trade unions with effective collective agreement would be bad at law.

He, however, directed Mr Shamenda to attend to ZFE's application for an appeal over the same matter.

ZFE had requested for an audience with the Minister to review the matter.

"The Minister has taken a long time to attend to the applicant's application to review their appeal and claim, therefore, an order of mandamus is granted compelling the Minister to attend to the applicant's appeal forthwith."

The Judge said since both parties had been successful in the action in one way or another, each party would bear their own costs.

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