Reprieve for former NRZ employees

NATIONAL Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) former employees have won a case of unfair labour practice in which their former employer had reportedly failed to effect pension adjustments for over two years.

The former employees, under the Zimbabwe Association of Retrenchees and Terminated Employees (Zim ARTE) banner were, in March last year, forced to take the labour arbitration route after a series of engagements with the management hit a deadlock in 2019. 

The former employees were demanding an increment to their pensions, which they argued had been eroded following the currency migration from United States Dollars to local currency. 

In a judgment delivered on July 1 by Washington Chitima, a designated labour agent of the Railway Industry, NRZ were ordered to issue pay out increments to the affected members dating back to 2019.

“Conciliation hearings were held on the March 31, May 31 and June 8, 2021 after attempts by the designated agent to settle the matter, the parties could not settle and subsequently a certificate of no settlement was issued, resulting in this ruling.

“It is my finding that the respondent (NRZ) is obliged to pay the complainants pension pay-out increases as stipulated by the NRZCPF (National Railways of Zimbabwe Contributory Pensions Fund),” reads the ruling in part.

“The respondent must pay complainant members all the payout increases made by the NRZCPF to other pensioners from 2019 to date, which are: 100 percent October 2019, 100 percent January 2020, 50 percent June 2020, five percent July 2020, 90 percent September 2020 backdated to January 2020, 50 percent December 2020, 50 percent January 2021 and 20 percent April 2021. 

“The respondent can deduct the increases it has made so far to the complainants and pay the balance thereof,” ruled Chitima.

NRZ spokesperson Nyasha Maravanyika said: “NRZ will be able to respond once it officially receives the ruling. When it comes to the issue of complainant, the NRZ have an open door policy, so once the ruling is in our hands we will definitely engage the aggrieved party.”

However, on the other hand Zim ARTE national chair Innocent Mupanganyama hailed the ruling.

“The ruling is just and fair. We have obtained the administrative justice and fairness as enshrined in Section 68 of the Zimbabwe Constitution. 

“The ruling will result in the pensions of terminated employees being improved,” he said.

About 450 NRZ employees lost their jobs in 2015 after the late Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku delivered a landmark judgment that resulted in over 20 000 employees being dismissed from work immediately on three months’ notice.

In order to try and recover their terminal benefits, the employees organised themselves under Zim ARTE.