Runesu Gwidi in MASVINGO
A TOTAL of 500 people employed by the Great Zimbabwe University have dragged the institution of higher learning to the High Court for alleged unilateral reduction of their pensions’ benefits from 17,29 percent to 7,5 percent without a clear works council resolution.
Masvingo High Court Judge Justice Neville Wamambo, last week reserved judgement of Case No 224/18, in which GZU workers are suing the institution and board members of its Pension Fund (GZU Pension Fund) for allegedly downsizing their pension benefits.
In their founding affidavit, the workers who are being represented by Caleb Mucheche of Matsikidze and Mucheche Law Chambers argued that on January 19,2017, GZU and the Pension Fund Board of Trustees allegedly effected a reduction of employee pension benefits from the usual 17,29 of annual salary to a paltry 7,5 percent without workers’ consent and clear resolution.
Advocate Mucheche told the High Court that the workers had been enjoying their pension benefits at the rate of 17,29 percent since January 27,2012.
He said it was both wrongful, unfair and capricious for the employer to effect a reduction of the benefits without their consent.
“The employer and other respondents who are board members to the Fund grossly erred.
“My clients would like to tell this honourable court that by reducing the benefits they took away the vested pension rights of the employees.
“It is a blatantly unfair labour practice.
“Furthermore, let me bring to the attention of this Court that after the reduction of the benefits, workers wrote to the employer on January 4, 2018, categorically rejecting the decision.
“It is this decision to reduce benefits by the employer which has forced them here to run for their sanctuary and justice.
“But then take note that such decision is dangerous in that it creates fertile ground for employee resentment and agitation,” said Advocate Mucheche.
GZU lawyer, Dzimba Jaravaza of Dzimba Jaravaza and Associates, however argued that the applicant was wrong to cite GZU as a respondent.
“According to Section 5 of the Pensions and Providence Act,a Pension Fund is corporate body which either sue or be sued on in its individual capacity. Hence, the employees should have sue the Great Zimbabwe University Pension Fund board not GZU.
“Again the said Fund is administered by Old Mutual not Great Zimbabwe management. I can safely say that the applicant cited a wrong respondent,” said Jaravaza.