Nine fired workers drag Delta to court

Lovemore Meya Herald Reporter
Delta Beverages has been slapped with a US$106 464 lawsuit after it unlawfully dismissed nine of its employees. It is alleged that Chibuku Super breweries in Chitungwiza unlawfully terminated contracts for the nine workers whose terms varied from nine to 19 months.

Mufaro Chiriga, Rufaro Tendai, Wyne Madangwe and Courage Luwaka worked for nine months while Blessing Usai, Lloyd Katumba, Julia Chibvongodze, Susan Nyandoro and Harlabour Maramba worked for 19 months.

They are now demanding payments on notice of pay to the tune of US$11 259, underpaid leave days US$5 113 and severance package US$90 072.

In the letter addressed to Delta Beverages by the nine employees’ lawyers, Mavhunga and Associates dated September 30, they indicated unlawful dismissal from work.

“All our clients were employed by your organisation for a consecutive period varying from nine months to 19 months. On September 25, 2014, you unilaterally, unlawfully and without notice, terminated our clients’ contracts of employment.

“Documents in our possession show that you made our clients sign monthly contracts for a continuous period ranging from nine months to 19 months so as to create the impression that they are and would continue to be casual workers,” reads part of the letter.

They further said that their clients’ contracts of employment entitled them to notice and severance packages as they were not casual but permanent employees.

The lawyers highlighted Section 12 (3) of the Labour Act Chapter 28:01 saying that it is categorically clear that when someone is engaged for a period of more than six weeks within a consecutive period of four months, he or she becomes a permanent employee.

“With the foregoing, it is therefore without doubt that our clients were permanent employees and that the termination of their contracts of employment was not done in terms of the law,” they said.

Through their lawyers, Gill, Godlonton and Gerrans Legal Practitioners, Delta Beverages denied liability to pay on a letter dated October 3.

“Our clients deny that they are liable to pay your clients any amount. Your clients were employed as fixed term contract employees for as specified duration of time. Upon the effluxion of that time, the contracts were terminated in accordance with the agreement between the parties. Accordingly, there is no legal basis for your clients’ claim,” reads the respond.

The two parties are expected to appear before a Labour Officer on November 6 for conciliation.

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