THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has filed an urgent application at the High Court to stop employers from blocking unvaccinated employees from reporting for work.
Through its secretary-general Japhet Moyo, the ZCTU, which has a membership of 35 affiliate trade unions with a total individual membership of 189 000 employees in Zimbabwe, argued that the actions of employers are an infringement on fundamental civil liberties and labour rights of employees.
The respondents in the matter are Public Service minister Paul Mavima, Attorney-General Prince Machaya, Zimnat Insurance Company, Zinara, TelOne (Private) Limited, Windmill Limited, Seed Co Zimbabwe and the Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences.
The union is seeking an order declaring the practice by employers of prohibiting unvaccinated employees from reporting for work and from continuing to perform their obligations under subsisting contracts of employment as an infringement of the fundamental right to human dignity and labour rights of the employees protected by sections 51, 52 and 65 of the constitution.
“That as appropriate relief in terms of section 85 (1), as read with section 175 (6) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, 2013, the 1st and 2nd (Mavima and Machaya) be and are hereby directed to cause the enactment of a statutory instrument under section 17 of the Labour Act (Chapter 28:01) that prohibits the aforesaid conduct and/or practices of employers in Zimbabwe and such a statutory instrument to be enacted within fourteen days from the date of this order,” the application reads.
The labour movement, being represented by Lovemore Madhuku (pictured), is arguing that there is no law making vaccination mandatory in Zimbabwe.
“Each person, having fully considered the implications and effects of vaccination, is expected to make a personal decision whether to or not to get vaccinated and where a person decides to get vaccinated, he or she is expected to make a personal decision relating to the timing of that vaccination,” Moyo said.
“The aforesaid employers are taking the law into their own hands as there is no law providing for compulsory vaccination in respect of Covid-19. In the process, the aforesaid employees are infringing the fundamental rights of the affected employees protected by sections 51,52, and 65 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
“As evident from the conduct of the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th Respondents as examples, thousands of workers in Zimbabwe have been affected and thousands more are likely to be affected if this court application is not heard and determined urgently.”
“Filed as an urgent matter because the application cannot wait for the relaxation of the measures under level four lockdown as the conduct being complained of is aimed at accomplishing its unlawful objectives before the end of level four lockdown.”
In a letter to its lawyers, TelOne’s company secretary and legal adviser L Dziripi wrote to Dube, Manikai and Hwacha Legal Practitioners asking for advice on the matter.
“Please assume agency on TelOne’s behalf and do the necessary.
On 21st July, 2021, TelOne issued a staff notice directing unvaccinated employees to go on immediate leave. The company also informed such employees of the withdrawal of the Covid-19 risk allowance,” the letter, dated 13 August, reads.
“There is no decision on dismissal of such employees and they are getting all their normal employment benefits. For further information or clarification.”