High Court stays revocation of recognition agreement between UNZALARU, management

The Lusaka High Court has granted the University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union (UNZALARU) leave to apply for judicial review against the Commissioner’s decision to approve the university council’s application to terminate the Recognition Agreement between the union and the council.

The Court has further ordered that the said leave shall operate as a stay to the Acting Labour Commissioner’s decision set out in the letter dated February 4, 2020 approving the application by the University of Zambia Council for the termination of the Recognition Agreement, pending determination of the matter or until any further direction or order by the court.

This is according to an order granting leave to apply for judicial review signed by the Lusaka High Court yesterday.

In this matter, Kelvin Mambwe in his capacity as general secretary of UNZALARU has sued the Attorney General and the University of Zambia Council as first and second respondents respectively.

According to an affidavit in support of the ex-parte summons for leave to apply for judicial review, Mambwe stated that as of February this year, UNZALARU’s records showed that it had four full time employees at its registered office and 769 members.

He added that the union also runs a medical scheme which was affiliated to atleast 11 local hospitals, adding that the medical scheme had 4,319 members who directly benefited from it.

Mambwe further stated that UNZALARU also administered a Salary Advance Scheme for its membership which was established to help its members who could not access bank loans, principally on the ground that their employer, the University of Zambia Council, delayed their salaries hence affecting the bank’s loan repayment plan.

He stated that on January 6, this year, UNZALARU held a meeting at which he (Mambwe) as general secretary, expressed concerns over the University of Zambia Council’s delay in paying members of the union their December 2019 salaries.

“My expression of concern came in the wake of the University of Zambia Council’s repeated delays of salary payments recorded in the previous months. At the said meeting, a number of grievances affecting the welfare of UNZALARU’s membership were discussed, all of which fell withing its objects and mandates,” read the affidavit.

“In exercising my freedom of expression and in keeping with the duty to speak on behalf of the union’s members, I lamented government’s failure to adequately fund UNZA and expressed the view that “if elections were held today (January 6, 2020), there were two categories of people that would vote for the PF, either those that were enjoying with them or idiots, it’s as simple as that”.”

Mambwe stated that arising from what was discussed at the said meeting, University of Zambia Council wrote to him the following day alleging that they were inciting industrial disharmony, and further gave the union 48 hours within which to show cause why it should not invoke the provisions of the Act with a view to ask the Labour Commissioner to terminate the Recognition Agreement between the council and the union.

He further disclosed that despite glaring illegalities and procedural improprieties, the Commissioner went ahead and approved the University of Zambia Council’s application to terminate the Recognition Agreement between the union and the council through a letter dated February 4, this year

Mambwe added that the said decision by the Commissioner to approve the termination of the Recognition Agreement was illegal, procedurally improper, unreasonable, irrational, made in bad faith and in blatant breach of the rules of natural justice.

He added that consequently, the said decision had left their 769 members with no one to bargain for them.

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