The Herald (Harare)

19 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Council Fires Ten Over Illegal Strike

Chitungwiza Town Council has fired 10 workers for engaging in an "illegal strike". The hearing committee approved dismissal of the 10 workers who are part of more than 700 workers suspended early this month after Labour Court declared the collective job action illegal.

The disciplinary hearings have however, torched a storm with the workers' representatives who are contesting the manner in which they were being conducted.

Zimbabwe Urban and Rural Council Workers Union general secretary Mr Bernard Danda confirmed that the council had unilaterally fired 10 workers.

Mr Danda said 10 employees appeared before a hearing committee and were fired.

He, however, could not release the names of the dismissed employees.

"It is most unfortunate that all the affected employees are affiliated to the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions.

"The committee was not discriminating as some of the workers who have been fired were off duty when the strike happened," he said.

Chitungwiza Town Clerk Mr George Makunde confirmed that hearings were under way although he could not be drawn into giving further details on the issue.

"I will be able to give you finer details next week after completion of the hearing," he said.

About 700 employees -- nearly half of the council's workforce -- were asked to explain their whereabouts during the strike.

Mr Danda said ZFTU was not happy with disciplinary proceedings and had already made representations to Mr Makunde over the defective composition of the body.

"There are three representatives of the employer and two from the employees and obviously decisions will be in favour of the majority," he said.

"We have also tried to raise the issue that the strike was declared illegal as the employer did not look into the matter that gave rise to the industrial action. It failed to consider that the workers had been unpaid for the past four months," he said.

Mr Danda said he was concerned about the welfare of the workers and how the affected workers were going to fend for their children during the festive season, as the employer never said anything about payments. The Labour Court declared the council workers strike illegal.

This followed the issuance of a show cause order by Labour and Social Services Minister Paurina Mpariwa last week.

Chitungwiza was also allowed by the labour court to take disciplinary action in terms of the code of conduct, or lay off or suspend without pay specified employees.

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