NEC contests ruling on levies

Daniel Nemukuyu Senior Court Reporter
National Employment Council for the Communications and Allied Services Industry has approached the Supreme Court contesting a High Court judgment that liberated employers from compulsory registration with NECs and payment of dues. The High Court last week ruled that companies are not obliged to register or pay levies to National Employment Councils, a development that analysts said was likely to leave the employment councils without money to fund their operations.

In a judgment delivered in favour of NetOne Cellular (Private) Limited last week, Justice Lavender Makoni, said the compulsory collection of funds from employers for the sustenance of NECs was unconstitutional.

NetOne took the NEC for the Communications and Allied Services Industry and the Ministry of Labour and Social Services to the High Court contesting the constitutionality of a collective bargaining agreement forcing the company to register with the NEC and to pay some dues.

The judge ruled that forcing employers to register with NECs was a violation of their right to freedom of association as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

Justice Makoni also ordered the striking down of Section 2 (a), 33 and 36 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement for the Communications and Allied Services Industry (SI 1 of 2012) that compelled employers to pay levies.

In a notice of appeal filed at the Supreme Court this week, NEC for the Communications and Allied Services Industry argued that the High Court erred in hearing the matter despite a preliminary point raised by the NEC that the matter was a pure labour case that required a specialised Labour Court.

It argued that the High Court had no jurisdiction to preside over such pure labour cases and urged the Supreme Court to dismiss the application with costs.

Before the High Court, NEC for Communication and Allied Services Industry argued that the prima facie infringement of the applicant’s right to freedom of association is a permissible derogation in terms of Section 23 (3) (c) of the old Constitution.

It was also argued that the obligation to pay levies was not a violation of the Constitution because it arose in terms of the law.