Eleven workers who were dismissed by Kefalos Quality Dairy Produce in Beatrice in November last year for refusing to sign new contracts have been served with eviction notices from the farm compound. Kefalos sought the Chitungwiza Magistrates Court’s
services in evicting the workers, who have been given seven days to vacate the farm.
The workers have indicated that they will not move until their labour dispute has been finalised.
The workers’ eviction is despite a pending case at the Labour Court where they are challenging their dismissal.
The matter was referred to the Labour Court by a labour officer who had issued a certificate of no settlement in the impasse between the workers and the employer.
The irate workers said that they feared to lose terminal benefits, with unconfirmed reports that Kefalos director Mr Life Rickman was set to leave for Denmark on May
29 this year. Their dismissal followed reservations about the new contracts of employment that did not have a clause on payment of gratuity and other benefits on termination of employment.
The labour officer had earlier ordered Kefalos to stop any disciplinary action against the workers pending finalisation of the matter.
“May all other internal proceedings on this matter be stopped until the day of the hearing,” said the officer.
The company defied the notice and proceeded to conduct a hearing against the workers on February 10, 2012 that was chaired by an independent arbitrator Mr D Mudzengi.
Kefalos managerial workers Ms Linda Gono, Ms Josephine Mhishi, Mr Bradlock Chapenduka and Mr Willard Zhangira attended the hearing, while Mr Darlington Katsande was the secretary.
The workers were found guilty of refusing to sign the new contracts.
They were served with dismissal letters signed by the factory manager, Mr Lovemore Chundu.
The letters also advised them to collect their terminal benefits and leave the compound. One of the workers who had served for more than 16 years was offered US$617 as terminal benefits.
The 11 workers were part of a 132 workforce who were given the new contracts.
Kefalos Quality Dairy Produce makes cheese, ice cream, yoghurt, butter and cream and produces 30 000 litres of milk daily.