At least six schools in Manicaland stand to lose a total of $509 200 in labour related disputes with former employees, investigations by The Herald Eastern Edition have revealed.
The schools' legal predicament came into light after a case in which Samaringa Primary School was left with empty classrooms when all its property was attached by the Sheriff of the High Court.
This was after the school had lost a labour dispute with a former accounts clerk, Benhilda Mukondo.
Mukondo was awarded about $14 000 by the Labour Court, resulting in the school losing all its movable property when it was seized to pay the debt.
Another pair of former ECD teachers at the same school are reportedly in possession of another combined award of around $1 200 and the school stands to lose more property.
St Mary's High School and St Peter's Jombe High School are also in trouble with labour laws, and all the schools are under the authority of the Anglican Diocese of Manicaland.
Also swimming in the murky waters of labour battles are schools under the authority of the United Methodist Church.
These include Hartzell High School, which is being sued for close to $200 000, Lydia Chimonyo about $85 000 and Mutambara High School, which is battling a lawsuit in the region of $160 000. Their woes are all stemming from labour disputes.
In case number LC/H/ORD/1427 /2017, Hillcrest College was ordered to pay a total of $49 000 to former workers it fired following the court ruling that employees could be fired on three months notice.
Commenting on these worrisome developments in schools, Zimbabwe Educational Scientific and Social Cultural Workers Union's regional officer, Mr Denford Chigweshe, whose organisation is representing all the aggrieved workers, blamed school development committees and school heads for refusing to come to the negotiating table, so that the issues could be resolved amicably.
Provincial officer for the Zimbabwe School Development Committees/Associations, Mr Gondai Madhuku, confirmed that all was not well in schools and something needed to be done urgently before the situation got out of hand.
His sentiments were echoed by the Legal Services and Discipline officer in the Provincial Education Director's office, Mr Calisto Mushaike, who also revealed that his office had since been tasked to start holding workshops to train all SDCs on labour laws and handling of labour disputes.