Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
Workers in managerial positions have a right to form and join trade unions of their choice which promote and further their interests, the Supreme Court has ruled.
The superior court made the landmark ruling in the case in which the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) was challenging the decision of the Registrar of Labour to register a union representing bank managers.
The Registrar had accepted registration of the Banking and Finance Managers Union of Zimbabwe (BAFMUZ). But BAZ held the position that managers cannot be members of a trade union because they represent the interests of employers.
However, Justice Bharat Patel this week upheld the lower court’s decision saying there was nothing sinister at law for managers to form or join a trade union that represents their interests.
He ruled that the appeal could not be sustained and that Section 45 of the Labour Act allows the registration of BAFMUZ as a trade union to represent the interests of managerial employees in the banking sector.
The judge also ruled that the registration of the BAFMUZ to represent managers would certainly not be unconstitutional and that such registration could not be regarded as being contrary to public policy.
“It follows that the findings and decision of the court-a quo cannot be factually impugned or legally impeached and must, therefore, be upheld,” said Justice Patel, dismissing the appeal with costs of suit.
Justice Patel said it was indubitable that a managerial employee is an employee, hence it should be accepted that he is entitled to the protection of all the rights correlative to that status.
“These include the right to collective representation at the work place,” he said.
“This is simply recognised in several key provisions of the Labour Act.
Section 4(1) of the Act gives every employee “the right if he so desires, to be a member or an officer of a trade union” and “the right to take part in the formation and registration of a trade union”. Said Justice Patel: “It follows that the court-a quo was undoubtedly correct in arriving at that conclusion.”
BAZ took the matter up to the Supreme Court following a Labour Court ruling in October 2015 in which president the court upheld the legality of BAFMUZ.
Advocate Thabani Mpofu instructed by Mawire and Associates acted for BAFMUZ, while Adv Tawanda Zhuwarara instructed by Kantor and Immerman argued the matter for BAZ.