Walter Mswazie, Masvingo Correspondent
An arbitrator has awarded Tongaat Hullets Zimbabwe workers salary increases of between 7,5 percent and 15 percent putting to rest a two-year long protracted labour dispute between the employer and workers’ representatives.
The arbitrator, retired Judge Justice George Smith ruled that the pay rise be backdated to April this year.
In the judgment, dated October 18, 2017 and seen by this reporter, workers’ representatives, Zimbabwe Sugarcane Milling Industry Workers Union won the voluntary arbitration award of 15 percent for the lowest grade (Band A) and 7.5 percent for the second lowest grade (Band B).
The workers were demanding a 39 percent wage increase for the lowest grade.
The lowest grade worker at the lowveld company presently earns $150, which is a far cry when compared to their regional counterparts in countries such as Mozambique, South Africa and Namibia. In these countries, the lowest paid worker earns between $450 and $600.
At one time workers embarked on a three-week strike that grounded operations at the company’s two milling plants, Hippo Valley Estates and Triangle Estates.
The industrial action was called off following the intervention of the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.
The ministry asked the workers to return to work while their grievances were being looked into.
At the time the company argued its wage levels were above the recommended rates in the agricultural sector and was adamant it was not going to give in to the workers’ demands.
This prompted the union to approach the Labour Court, which could not resolve the impasse.
The union and the employer then settled for voluntary arbitration which ruled in favour of the workers.
“The increase of 39 percent that is being sought by the claimant is, in my opinion, excessive. After taking into consideration the issues raised by the parties, I consider that an increase of 15 percent in the case of Band A employees and 7,5 percent in the case of Band B employees would be appropriate,” reads the judgment.
Retired Justice Smith said the increase should be backdated to April this year.
Article Source: The Chronicle