HARARE – Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is embroiled in a long labour dispute with its retrenched “security officers” who claim they were not paid salary arrears and benefits dating back to 2009.
In an application presented before an arbitrator by Joseph Lungu and 168 others, the workers claim the bank did not pay them according to gazetted salary schedules, since the introduction of the multi-currency system.
The ex-security officers however, recently won an arbitral award, which the central bank has since appealed against.
In the arbitral award, handed down by Joel Mambara on November 7, this year, he rules that the workers should be paid their dues.
The workers told the court that from 2007, they received proper salaries and benefits, until 2009 when the normal salary schedule was suspended, with all employees receiving a $150 allowance every month.
During the time, the court heard, no pay slips were being issued.
The court heard that in 2010, the worker’s committee won an award for the employees to be paid in United States dollars and the salaries were back dated to March 2009.
According to court papers, RBZ promised to pay the salaries as agreed when the resources were available.
The workers claim they were later asked to sign contract forms, which were silent on the amount of salaries they were supposed to get.
The issue remained unresolved until the central bank laid off 1 400 workers including the security officers in January 2011.
“To our astonishment, while all other workers were being paid and promised payments of arrear salaries, we were being sent away empty handed,” the workers claim in their court papers.
The workers launched a separate fight through an arbitrator after they lost at the Labour Court , before filing an appeal at the Supreme Court. The case is still pending in the Supreme Court.
RBZ said the workers were not entitled to the money they were claiming.
“The totality of the facts of the present case show that the Claimants have no legal basis upon which to claim any salary or benefits in addition to the $150 or $250 per month as agreed in the written contract of employment,” RBZ said.
The central bank said the workers were “contract security guards” and as such were not party to the collective bargaining agreement and did not fall in any of the grades categorised.