The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Guards Demand U.S $5 Million From Marange

MARANGE Resources' labour dispute with 243 security officers, who are claiming over US$5 million in salaries and benefits from the diamond mining firm, has been referred for arbitration after attempts at conciliation failed.

The figure increases monthly as the three-year labour wrangle drags on.

This week the feuding parties' lawyers will appear before an arbitrator in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

Mutamangira and Associates law firm is acting for Marange Resources while Matsikidze and Mucheche law practice is representing the security officers. The dispute started when Marange Resources reportedly transferred internal security personnel to National Eye Security.

The firm, owned by businessman Mr Tapson Madzivire, provides security services to the mining company.

The security officers challenged the decision arguing that their transfer was unlawful.

An arbitrator, Dr N. T. Sambureni, quashed the transfer of the claimants to National Eye Security and ordered Marange Resources to reinstate all 243 without loss of salaries and benefits.

The Labour Court upheld the arbitral award. The arbitrator quantified backpay and ordered Marange Resources to pay US$353 983.50.

Backpay is applicable whether the employer reinstates or does not reinstate the affected employees.

Marange Resources appealed against the award but its application was dismissed with costs.

Yesterday the workers' lawyer, Mr Caleb Mucheche, said: "In compliance with the arbitral award Marange Resources paid backdated salaries for six months to the date when the workers were reinstated.

"These employees have not been paid damages in lieu of reinstatement which is confirmation that the employer-employee relationship subsists."

Marange Resources is opposing the latest application for quantification arguing it has no merit.

The mining firm says the matter was dealt with because arrears were quantified and a final judgment made.

"In fact, claimants are aware of this fact as they tried to approach the arbitrator well after he had made a determination ... seeking the re-quantification of the arbitration award and the arbitrator declined jurisdiction on the basis that he had dealt with the matter," read part of the statement of defence filed by Marange Resources.

Marange Resources says quantification of the arbitration award marked the end of the relationship between the parties.

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