THE Lusaka High Court has nullified the decision by the labour commissioner to terminate the recognition agreement between the University of Zambia Researchers Union (UNZALARU) and its management.
And the court has ordered UNZA management to comply with the provisions of the Recognition Agreement and that the losing parties meet the legal costs incurred by the union in prosecuting the matter.
UNZALARU general secretary Dr Kelvin Mambwe, in a statement, stated that based on the court ruling, UNZALARU remained the legally recognized bargaining entity for its union members.
“On behalf of the UNZALARU Executive Committee, I am pleased to inform you that the Lusaka High Court has nullified the decision of the Labour Commissioner to terminate the Recognition Agreement between the Union and the University of Zambia Management. The Court has also directed Management to forthwith comply with the provisions of the Recognition Agreement. It has further ordered the losing parties to meet the legal costs incurred by the Union in prosecuting the matter. This was in a case in which the Union had sued the Attorney General, in representative capacity for the Labour Commissioner, and the University of Zambia Council (See case number 2020/HP/0246),” Dr Mambwe stated.
He stated that the victory was worth celebrating and further thanked his members for having confidence in the union executive.
“In effect, the court’s judgement means that we revert to the pre-existing status quo, where UNZALARU remains the legally recognised bargaining entity for university lecturers and researchers. This is an important victory of which we should all be proud without reservation or any feeling of conceit. We would like to thank you, the membership, for your confidence in our leadership and support throughout this ill-advised attempt to revoke our Recognition Agreement on malicious grounds. Today, it feels good to be a member of UNZALARU,” stated Dr Mambwe.
And according to Lusaka High Court judge Sharon Newa the said decision of the Acting Labour Commissioner does not amount to a termination of the said agreement, adding that UNZALARU and the University of Zambia Council are still under obligation to comply with the termination provisions of the said agreement.
Judge Newa said it was improper for the acting Labour Commissioner to meet only one party after having heard the application to terminate the Recognition Agreement, and thereafter approve the application.
She added that this showed that she was not impartial in the execution of her duties.
Judge Newa said as such, the acting Labour Commissioner breached the rules of natural justice, as there was lack of fairness in UNZALARU appearing before her, when she was also aggrieved with the union.
She added that the outcome of the hearing was not impartially reached.
“Thus, it was procedurally improper for the Acting Labour Commissioner to approve the termination of the Recognition Agreement between UNZALARU and the university council, as she was an aggrieved person in relation to the facts giving rise to the university council making the application for the reasons I have given,” judge Newa said.
She therefore, declared that the decision by the Acting Labour Commissioner made on February 4, 2020, approving the university council’s application for termination of the Recognition Agreement dated March 23, 1993 between UNZALARU and the council does not amount to a termination of the said agreement.
“The applicant (UNZALARU) and the second respondent (the university council) are still under obligation to comply with the termination provisions of the said agreement. Further, I grant the order of certiorari, quashing the decision of the Acting Labour Commissioner, and I grant an order of mandamus directing the University of Zambia Council to comply with the terms of the Recognition Agreement,” judge Newa ruled.
She awarded UNZALARU costs of the proceedings, to be taxed in default of agreement and further, granted leave to appeal.