WORKERS at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) have filed an urgent chamber application in a bid to overturn their transfer to other revenue-collecting centres.
In August, ZIMRA announced the redeployment of staff to various centres.
About 200 workers have been affected by the exercise.
ZIMRA board secretary and director for legal and corporate services, Florence Jambwa, defended the move, saying it was meant to meet the needs and requirements of the authority as well as being part of the organisation’s skills development.
The redeployments, however, came on the backdrop of serious concerns over corruption involving ZIMRA staff at various ports of entry.
Irked by the manner in which the transfers were being carried out, ZIMRA employees have approached the courts seeking to forestall the process.
In their application, the employees, who are being represented by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority Trade Union (ZIMRATU), noted that they sought audience with the acting commissioner general to have the transfer issue resolved amicably, but to no avail.
ZIMRATU is arguing that the applicants have a right not to be transferred because they were not duly consulted and were not given the due reasonable time before ZIMRA effected the transfers, which would affect their families, who might not be able to settle in the respective regions.
“Furthermore, the urgent transfers are disrupting our livelihoods, while simultaneously exposing us to the risk of contracting the much-dreaded HIV and Aids by separating us from our spouses. We need a reasonable period to put our houses and families in shape so that they can move with us,” partly read the court papers.
The employees also argue that the tax authority did not clarify the issue of who will bear the costs of the transfers.
In the opposing affidavit, Mafuka Hungwe, the ZIMRA head of employee relations, said all employees signed a generic contract of employment upon their engagement advising them that they would be liable to be transferred at any time and at the discretion of the employer.
Mafuka said ZIMRA has a staff handbook which clearly states that all transfer costs shall be met by the employer in the form of a week’s temporary accommodation, meals and a disturbance allowance.
ZIMRA also has a registered code of conduct providing for grievance process prescribed for the employees.
Clause 1 part 2 of the said code of conduct defines a grievance as “any dissatisfaction or feeling of injustice arising out of a work situation”.
ZIMRA argues that it was impracticable to consult all the employees due for transfer before making the decision.
“Indeed all the employees of the respondent were advised on August 19, 2016 that there would be transfers. All employees were advised that those with special circumstances could lodge internal appeals. To date 11 such appeals have been received from employees with such circumstances and the appeals are being considered. Some of the complainants appeals are still being considered,” partly reads the court papers.
ZIMRA is objecting to the urgency of the application, saying the employees were aware of the possibility of them being transferred since the day they entered into employment contracts.
It is also noted that the reasons being advanced to challenge the transfer, namely their spouses and movement of families, were issues which the applicants were always aware of.
To try to defeat the urgency of the matter, ZIMRA based its argument on the fact that the employees mentioned in their submissions that they were not opposed to the transfer and acknowledged that the employer has the sole discretion to transfer them.
“It is therefore quite mind-blogging how the applicants chose to approach this court on an urgent basis on those circumstances,” ZIMRA argued.
ZIMRA also claims that the citation of ZIMRATU as first respondent was faulty as the union has no mandate to represent the employees, since the dispute was of a contractual nature hence the union cannot act in its own name.