By Alex Bell
02 August 2012
Zimbabwe’s national power supply authority is fighting against an arbitration order to increase the salaries of its workers, by appealing against what it insists is a ‘biased’ decision.
A voluntary mediation process was launched earlier this year to settle an ongoing wage dispute between ZESA and energy workers. That process resulted in an order that promised a new salary structure for the energy sector as of 18th June 2012. This included a 40% increase in salaries for employees.
But the new salary structure was never implemented, resulting in the country’s energy workers’ union threatening to stage a nationwide strike last month.
ZESA then retaliated by suspending more than 130 workers from across the country, without pay or benefits, in a move slammed by other Zimbabwean workers’ unions as ‘primitive’ and ‘barbaric.
The power utility is now appealing the arbitration order, insisting that one of the arbitrators, Professor Lovemore Madhuku, was not independent and therefore the order was biased. The parastatal has argued that Madhuku is registered with the same legal firm that has been representing the energy workers.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights has said the appeal by ZESA is just an attempt to ‘buy time’, and the parastatal’s argument is baseless. Lawyer Jeremiah Bamu is quoted as saying that the voluntary arbitration process allows for the two sides to choose their own arbitrators. And in this case, both arbitrators, including the one chosen by ZESA, agreed with the salary increase order.
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