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Harare City Council executives have demanded reinstatement of their mega salaries and benefits, arguing that the local authority unilaterally reduced their perks with effect from August 15 last year.Former town clerk Dr Tendai Mahachi was the biggest earner at $27 000 a month, excluding vehicle, housing, airtime and workshop allowances. Lower grade 1-3 executives earned no less than $14 000 per month.
The executives claim their salaries were contractual. Government later set up a salary structure for management at Harare City Council, which saw the town clerk earning $10 475,75 per month in line with efforts to cut expenditure on salaries to enhance service delivery.
However, in a letter written to Harare Mayor Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni and copied to human resources and general purposes committee chairperson Clr Wellington Chikombo and finance committee chairperson Clr Tranos Moyo, the city executives say they were never consulted and did not agree to have their pay reduced.
“It would appear that council took this unlawful decision on the strength of a communication from Engineer George Mlilo, the secretary for Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, who is not our clients’ employer and whose conduct is repugnant with the principle of privity of contract as between our clients and City of Harare,” reads the letter written by the executives’ lawyers, Chinawa Law Chambers, to Councillor Manyenyeni.
“A unilateral variation of employment contracts occurs where the employer changes or alters an employee’s conditions of service without securing such employee’s consent with the result that the employee is prejudiced,” the lawyers said.
“It is for this specific mischief that the law is trite that an employer cannot unilaterally vary the terms and conditions of a contract. Any variation of the contract of employment without consent of the employee would be a unilateral variation which is unlawful,” said the lawyers.
The lawyers argued the salary reduction was unlawful and a gross unfair labour practice.
They said they were instructed to demand that council restores the executive salaries and benefits, which were applicable to them before council’s decision to cut them.
“Corrective remedial action must be taken and implemented by council within the next seven working days and written confirmation by council that it is taking such corrective action must be received at our offices no later than 4pm of December 15, 2016,” said the lawyers.
They said the executives were ready to take council to court if it did not restore their perks.
Last year Government set salary caps for parastatal and local authorities’ bosses after it emerged that most heads of State entities were paying themselves “obscene” salaries and perks instead of funding service delivery to residents and ratepayers. Innocent Ruwende: source-herald